There are not many who have an association to the Ontario Hockey League that can match the longevity of Bobby Jones.
Not only did Jones play in 240 OHL games from 1985 to 1990 as a dependable defenseman with the Soo Greyhounds but he coached in the league from 1995 through 2018 with six different teams and won a pair of Memorial Cup championships behind the bench of the Windsor Spitfires.
Jones has always been a favourite of mine. And not just because of the hockey and that he is a good kid from a good family but that he happened to go to the same elementary school in Sault Ste. Marie — St. Mark — that I, my two kids, and my younger sister did.
I also felt for him, when, barely into his teens, Bobby lost his dad, Sam, to an accident in 1984. And I also liked Bobby and have continued to follow his career as a coach because I was fond of his mom, Marilyn, who passed away in 2020 at the good old age of 87.
What is admirable about Jones — other than his dogged determination in sticking it out as an OHL player for five years on below average Greyhound teams and then putting in a 20-plus years apprenticeship as a coach in the league — is his loyalty, dedication and selflessness.
He stayed in the OHL as a coach — mostly as an associate — for as long as he did for family reasons. And even though he coached for six different OHL teams, the moves he made were for family or financial reasons more than personal advancement.
Jones finally put himself first when he got his first pro coaching job in 2018, with the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League. And he and wife Paige only made the move from the OHL because their two kids had become young adults.
In 2019, Jones realized his dream of coaching in the National Hockey League when he joined the Ottawa Senators as an assistant coach under D.J. Smith, his former sidekick from Memorial Cup championship fame in Windsor.
Originally from the Sault Ste. Marie area beach town of Haviland Bay, Jones continues to carry a good, solid, honest reputation as someone who has forged such a lengthy hockey career from a game that can be so stressful and unforgiving.
To be sure, Jones is a hallowed member of the OHL honour roll.
As mentioned, he played five seasons, spanning 240 games, as a good, steady defenseman with the Greyhounds — including being team captain — before turning to coaching at age 25 after a few years in the minor pro system of the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings.
Jones then went on to become a highly-regarded assistant, associate and head coach in the OHL for more than 20 years, working for the Greyhounds, Brampton Battalion, Toronto St. Michael’s Majors, Sudbury Wolves, Windsor, and then the Oshawa Generals.
I like writing about the good guys of the game who more than pay their dues to get them where they want to be.
Bobby Jones is one of those good guys.