Ottawa Senators rally around assistant coach Bob Jones after his diagnosis with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Jones was diagnosed in early January and was telling players and coaches about the Senators shortly thereafter. The team announced their diagnosis Tuesday because Jones and his family want to raise awareness for ALS research.
“We just want to leave everything out there because we think that if you lose or play badly it’s the end of the world, but no, there are people in life who have to go through much tougher things,” said captain Brady Tkachuk. “The fact that he’s here every step of the way and wants to see us all as a group and an organization and make our dreams come true I think says a lot about the person he is and how much he cares about this team and that Players in the dressing room.
“It just makes us want to find that extra level to get the job done. It is a honor.”
Jones, 53, is currently in his fourth season as an assistant coach with the Senators after being named head coach DJ Smith on July 5, 2019.
He’s just a guy who’s been taking care of players for decades.— Senators head coach DJ Smith via assistant Bob Jones
He joined the club after previous experience in the American Hockey League and a coaching career spanning more than 20 seasons in the Ontario Hockey League.
“I’ve known him for a long time. The players love him, his wife, his kids, all his friends,” Smith said. “I know how many messages he has received and I received about him today.
“He’s just a guy who’s been taking care of players for decades.”
Bob Jones is one of the kindest, funniest and gentlest people you will ever meet. Brave of him and his family to share his ALS diagnosis to help others. He’s on duty today. #Sens pic.twitter.com/C0GbsUvfZp
“Full support of the organization”
Jones, who resides in Tecumseh, Ontario, off-season, and his wife Paige have two children, Blake and Brianna. The Jones family has asked that those considering donations consider both the ALS Society of Canada and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
“We have been working internally with Bob and his family as he takes on this challenge,” Dorion said in a statement. “Although Bob will continue his coaching duties, he has the full support of the organization to take any time he needs away from the club during the season to focus on his health and family.”
ALS is a progressive nervous system disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, leading to loss of muscle control. It’s often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, after the Hall of Famer baseball player who was diagnosed with it in 1939.
Calgary Flames Assistant GM Chris Snow also has ALS. He was diagnosed with the disease in January 2020.
Smith said Jones and Snow felt sorry for their ALS.
“I think reaching out to someone who has it meant a lot,” Smith said. “Unless someone is going through what you’re going through, it’s really hard to listen to advice.
“I don’t know, you know, I’m not in his shoes. But it [helps to talk to] someone else in the hockey world who went through this, who went to work every day and maintained a certain level of sanity along the way.