Seth Jones getting green light to shine from John Tortorella

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COLUMBUS, OH - JANUARY 9: Seth Jones #3 of the Columbus Blue Jackets makes his home debut with Columbus in a game against the Carolina Hurricanes on January 9, 2016 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - JANUARY 9: Seth Jones #3 of the Columbus Blue Jackets makes his home debut with Columbus in a game against the Carolina Hurricanes on January 9, 2016 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

BROOKLYN, NY – John Tortorella had been inside Barclays Center before to watch the New York Islanders play, but Tuesday night is his first visit as an opposing coach with the Columbus Blue Jackets

"It looks like a beautiful building,” he said, glancing around the even level. “[But] it's a pain in the ass to get here."

The Blue Jackets hit the ice for an optional skate, and defenseman Seth Jones was among the players that took it. The 21-year-old defenseman, who arrived in last week’s blockbuster trade sending Ryan Johansen to the Nashville Predators, only has two games with his new club. But his education about the team, its system and its new coach off the ice has been lengthy and intense.

“It’s been a bit of a whirlwind. It was a bit of a shock when it all happened,” he said. “But I have two games under my belt with my new team, and I’m very excited. From game one to game two, I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable with my teammates.”

And his coach.

Having braved the "pain in the backside" travel to arrive there, Tortorella held a team meeting on Tuesday morning at Barclays, and then took Jones aside to break down video from their previous game, in which he played 22:47 (a season high) with one shot and an even rating.

They went over what worked. They went over what didn’t.

“You could tell he felt much more comfortable in the second game,” said Tortorella. “He was up the ice. His passing and his subtle plays were much more evident.”

That was especially true in the third period, Tortorella said, when Jones was an active participant in the Jackets’ offense. It’s a role that’s expected of him, and it’s one of the main reasons the team coveted him in trading away their No. 1 center. 

They had other offers -- rumors were that Jonas Brodin was offered from the Wild, and Kevin Shattenkirk from the Blues. But they wanted Jones. 

He had 25 points as a rookie and followed it with 27 points last season. He has 11 points in 40 games thus far this season – starting strong, before going 19 games without a point for the Predators.

Tortorella said he expects offense from his young defenseman, because he’s encouraged to generate it. There’s no pulling back the reins on Seth Jones.

“Oh, the reins are up. The reins are up on all our ‘D’. It’s just them feeling comfortable skating up the ice. We’ll never handcuff them – they’re an important part of creating offense in our league, with the way teams defend and block shots,” he said.

It also shows confidence in a 21-year-old player, who has two years under his belt but still has room to grow.

“What I do like about him: Very businesslike, very quiet kid but a very confident kid,” said Tortorella.

“Some of [young players] aren’t ready for it. There are different maturity levels. Sometimes teaching young kids, the important part isn’t X’s and O’s. It’s how you handle yourself. It’s about being a pro. As you play more minutes, you get more teaching opportunities. As you watch their mannerisms, you get more teaching moments. That’s what we’re looking for. It’s not always about the points.” 

The relationship between Tortorella and Jones is an important one. Neither of them are going anywhere, as the Blue Jackets attempt to pull themselves out of the abyss they’re in. For Jones, having played for another intense American coach in Nashville was a good preview for joining Team Torts.

“They’re both very intense coaches,” said Jones of Tortorella and Peter Laviolette. “All they want is your full, 100-percent attention on the ice. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, they understand that. They just want you to go out and give your best effort for the team.”

We haven’t seen the best from Jones. It’s yet to come. And it may not have come in Nashville, where he was going to play in the shadow of Shea Weber and Roman Josi for the foreseeable future.

We’ve seen other players emerge from that shadow. Like Ryan Suter, who left Weber’s side to take a big money deal with the Minnesota Wild; and while he hasn’t finished ahead of Weber in the Norris voting for the last two seasons, he’s certainly carved out a place as a premier defender in the NHL on his own (ice time devouring) merits. 

Jones lost Weber and Josi at teammates, but over the next few seasons he’ll have Ryan Murray and Zach Werenski to help build a formidable blue line in Columbus.

But make no mistake: You don’t trade Ryan Johansen for a piece. You trade him for a foundational player, and Jones has the potential to be focal point of the Columbus blue line like Weber has been for the Predators.

The Blue Jackets and Tortorella will do all they can to ensure Jones has that opportunity.

“They’ve all made it very easy for me,” said Jones. “Had their arms wide open for me, from the leadership group to the team management. I’m happy to be where I’m at.”

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Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.

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