The Blackhawks have a nickname problem: ‘‘Jonesy’’ fits both Seth and Caleb Jones.
And, unlike with brothers Kirby and Colton Dach or unrelated Tyler and Reese Johnson, that issue likely won’t disappear when training camp ends. The Hawks, who are notoriously stubborn and predictable with their nicknames, will need to get creative with this situation.
‘‘Every time I hear ‘Jonesy,’ I turn around — and probably so does Caleb, even though they’re talking to me half the time,’’ Seth joked last week. ‘‘We’re going to have to figure that out. I told him I’m older and have more games played, so I’ll take ‘Jonesy.’ He’ll figure whatever he wants out — ‘CJ’ or something.’’
The Jones brothers are willing to put up with that confusion, however, for the excitement of uniting on the Hawks.
Despite Seth’s 580 previous appearances for the Predators and Blue Jackets and Caleb’s 93 for the Oilers, they never have faced each other at the professional level. So their first NHL game together will be this fall as teammates, not opponents.
In the meantime, Caleb, 24, officially needs to win a roster spot. He was paired with Wyatt Kalynuk in the Hawks’ preseason opener Wednesday against the Red Wings.
‘‘I’m just having fun, trying to make sure I do everything right off the ice and show what I can do,’’ Caleb said. ‘‘Hopefully things will work out for me.’’
‘‘[He’s] finding a way to break through as a full-time guy,’’ coach Jeremy Colliton said. ‘‘But he’s had a good camp. He’s been solid, he’s been physical, doing a good job defending the rush and getting stops in the D-zone.’’
And Seth, who is on the verge of turning 27, must adjust to being the No. 1 defenseman in Colliton’s system versus in former Jackets boss John Tortorella’s. He didn’t play Wednesday but has been paired with Jake McCabe in practices.
‘‘There’s maybe a little more emphasis on transition with Jeremy,’’ Seth said. ‘‘[Tortorella was] a pretty tight coach when it comes to defense and staying above the puck, things like that. There are some minor differences I see.’’
And slightly different personalities, too?
‘‘You can say that about a lot of people when it comes to Torts,’’ Seth quipped.
The Jones brothers aren’t the same personality-wise, either. They’ve trained together in their family home in Dallas for many years, but both described the phenomenon of seeing each other every day in Chicago as ‘‘weird.’’
Their lockers aren’t right next to each other’s, but they are only a few feet apart. Away from the arena, they’re trying to keep a little more distance. Caleb moved into a townhouse with his girlfriend and German shepherd, whereas Seth picked a condo downtown.
‘‘I see him too much now in the room, so I don’t want to see him away from the rink,’’ Seth said, grinning.
But for all of their lighthearted ribbing, there’s a lot of love, too. Caleb admitted it’s nice having ‘‘someone you can lean on or talk to if you’re ever having a tough day.’’ He also is looking forward to learning from his older brother on the ice.
‘‘[Seth is] always in the gym,’’ Caleb said. ‘‘He practices like he plays, and that’s a big thing for young guys coming up that you can learn from: You have to do it in practice to do it in a game. And his practice habits are really good, so I’d say that’s a big thing I’ve picked up from him.’’
That practice intensity might be a mutual thing.
‘‘We do battle drills in the summer, but [last week] we went into the corner, and [Caleb] got me in the back of the head a little bit,’’ Seth said. ‘‘I didn’t know it was him until after the fact. I’m trying to push him; he’s trying to push me. It’s fun.’’