Being the Blackhawks’ locker-room DJ is a fun but thankless job: ‘It’s hard to keep it fresh’

Caleb Jones has taken over for Riley Stillman as the primary DJ this season, with Alex Stalock subbing in recently. And the tunes have varied widely, from country in the morning to “Mr. Brightside” after rare wins.

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Caleb Jones and Brandon Flowers

Defenseman Caleb Jones (left) sometimes chooses the Blackhawks’ locker-room music. The Killers frontman Brandon Flowers (right) sometimes sings it.

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ST. LOUIS — Alex Stalock knew it would happen.

“They get mad when I leave the room because the music goes off,” he quipped Wednesday.

The Blackhawks goalie then sauntered over toward the showers, a towel wrapped around his shoulders and his phone cradled in hand.

And sure enough, the Bluetooth speakers inside the visitors’ locker room at Enterprise Center began crackling, making a jumbled mess out of the twangy lines and gentle strumming of “This Bar” by Morgan Wallen.

It’s a thankless job, being the Hawks’ locker-room DJ. The player tasked with it struggles with the same issues that anyone playing music for any group does. Technology isn’t foolproof, no one’s music tastes align exactly and simply thinking of hundreds of songs in order to keep the tunes fresh day after day isn’t easy.

But at least it’s easier than the on-ice portion of being a professional hockey player.

“Yeah, if you have a song request, you can give it to me,” Caleb Jones said with a smile. “I’m running out of ideas.”

Jones has operated as the Hawks’ primary DJ most of this season, albeit somewhat involuntarily. It turns out that the Hawks’ decision to trade Riley Stillman right before the regular season started left more than just their defense in a pinch.

“It kind of fell into my lap,” Jones explained. “It used to be Stillman last year. [Jonathan] Toews did it one game [after Stillman left], and then he looked at me and said, ‘I don’t really want to do this.’ So I’ve taken it on every time I’ve been in [the locker room]. I’m used to it now.”

Jones has introduced more country music to the mix than Stillman did. It’s by far the most common genre in the room before and after practices and morning skates, although the beats shift more toward rap on game days as warmups and puck drop approach.

That heavy dose of country has unsurprisingly received mixed reviews around the room.

“He’s got some work to do, for sure,” Max Domi said, grinning mischievously. “We’ve had some conversations. Part of the art of being a DJ is being able to feel out the room and the time of day. You have to know what to play [and] when. Caleb is still learning that, but he’s getting there.”

Added Reese Johnson, “He definitely doesn’t have the same taste as I do.”

But then there’s ever-friendly Connor Murphy’s assessment: “DJ-ing is really hard because there’s so many games, so many days we’re here. It’s hard to keep it fresh and not get stale with the same playlist. So he has been good. He’s confident with it.”

One thing Jones doesn’t have to handle is the postgame playlist. The team voted before the season opener to make “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers then “Mi Gente” by J Balvin and Willy William as their one-two punch of victory songs.

They haven’t gotten to hear the two drastically different hits too often lately, but after their rare wins, the team’s unheralded training staff ensures both are immediately blaring in the room.

And Stalock, since returning from his concussion, occasionally has stepped up and filled in for Jones on practice days exclusively. Stalock’s taste is more wide-ranging; before Morgan Wallen came on Wednesday, Simon & Garfunkel’s “Cecilia” had been maintaining the mellow vibes.

But even that diversity was getting ribbed by the team earlier Wednesday morning, Stalock admitted. That’s just the reality of the job.

“I’ve never heard a DJ on a team — or been a DJ, myself included — where you don’t get ripped by someone,” Domi said. “You can’t please everyone. You have to have pretty thick skin.”

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