No fury like that of jilted Silvertips fans

Comcast Arena will be abuzz tonight.

This is the moment Everett Silvertips fans have eagerly awaited. For more than three years, they’ve waited patiently for their opportunity to see superstar defenseman Seth Jones take the ice in Everett.

Unfortunately, Tips fans won’t be seeing Jones in the context they wished.

Jones makes his first visit to Everett as a member of the Portland Winterhawks tonight, and it’s certain he’ll receive an icy reception from a home crowd he jilted.

The saga by now is well known. Everett, with two first-round picks in the 2009 bantam draft, took a chance on Jones. Jones was considered perhaps the top talent available in the draft, and as the son of former NBA basketball player Popeye Jones he came complete with a compelling backstory. However, Jones slid to 11th overall because of questions about whether he would choose to play in the WHL or the NCAA.

For three years, the Tips courted Jones and his family. Then team general manager Doug Soetaert always maintained his confidence that Jones would end up in Everett, even after Jones decided to play his 16- and 17-year-old seasons for the U.S. National Team Development Program.

Jones was the game changer. He was considered the type of talent capable of single-handedly turning around Everett’s flagging fortunes, which have seen the Tips fail to advance past the first round of the playoffs since 2007. He was billed as the complete package of size, skill and hockey sense. Images of a defensive pairing including Jones and Ryan Murray caused salivary glands in Everett to gush like waterfalls.

But Soetaert was dismissed in February. Then in April, Jones’ representatives announced he wouldn’t sign with the Silvertips. Everett was compelled to trade him to Portland for a package of four prospects, and Jones wasted no time signing with the Winterhawks.

By all accounts, Jones has been every bit as good as advertised. Going into Friday night’s game against Seattle, the 18-year-old had six goals — including a beauty solo effort during Portland’s 5-2 victory over Everett on Halloween — and 11 assists in 24 games, as well as a plus-17 rating. He’s solidified his position as one of the top two prospects for the 2013 NHL draft, and he helped Portland compile the league’s best record at 20-4-1-0.

Everett fans are left wondering what might have been.

We still haven’t received an explanation from Jones as to why he wouldn’t sign with Everett, but was willing to sign with Portland. Jones was not made available for an interview this week as the Winterhawks closed ranks in response to the crippling sanctions handed down by the league Wednesday for player benefit violations.

As if tonight’s game wasn’t charged enough by Jones’ first visit to Everett, it’s also Portland’s first road game since the sanctions were imposed. Think the Winterhawks may hear a few choice words from the fans?

But it’s certain Jones will be the primary target of those barbs. When Portland played Everett during the Everett Silvertips Preseason Tournament, Jones heard a smattering of boos every time he touched the puck. There were maybe 1,000 fans in the stands that night, and the game meant nothing. It will be an exponentially larger crowd tonight, and a completely different atmosphere.

After all, it’s hard to get over a broken heart.

Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.

More in Sports

Sounders clinch playoff spot with 4-0 win over FC Dallas

Seattle gets two second-half goals from Will Bruin as it earns the right to defend its MLS Cup

Cascade senior finds ‘freedom’ with help of football

After escaping oppression in Iraq, Bruins kicker Sarmad Aqrawi forges a new life in the U.S.

Turner, Dodgers walk off with a victory in Game 2 of NLCS

Justin Turner hits a three-run homer with two out in the bottom of the ninth to give L.A. a 4-1 win

Moos leaving WSU to become the athletic director at Nebraska

Moos has been the athletic director at Washington State since 2010

Another desert nightmare: No. 5 UW shocked by Arizona St.

The Huskies’ offense struggles mightily in a 13-7 loss to the Sun Devils on the road.

Patterson: M’s lack of homegrown talent is a big concern

Statistics show Seattle is lacking behind playoff teams in player development.

POLL: Which loss was worse, UW Huskies or WSU Cougars?

Both Washington and Washington State suffered inexplicable upset football defeats over the weekend.

Seahawks running game still stuck in neutral

None of Thomas Rawls, Eddie Lacy or C.J. Prosise have stepped up in the absence of Chris Carson

Silvertips end road trip with a 5-3 loss to Kootenay

Everett Silvertips fell short of a comeback as they concluded their nine-game road trip with a loss.

Most Read