Rejuvenated Jim happy to take responsibility
Sunday April 5th 2015, as part of a team that defied all the odds, Genting Casino Coventry Blaze defenceman James Jorgensen ended what started a miserable season in North America by lifting the Elite League playoff trophy.
A mid-season addition to the club and one crucial to the playoff success, the American stood on the ice of the National Ice Centre in Nottingham, a Champion for a second time, contemplating retirement from a career which had seen him ice in the NCAA, ECHL, CHL (now defunct), the French Ligue Magnus and with Elite League rivals Braehead Clan and Sheffield Steelers.
As the champagne flowed, 'one more year' he thought as he was probed by Blaze TV’s Ed Kimberley.
“I didn’t know how much longer I was going to play at the end of last year, so it was a one year at a time sort of thing,” re-called Jorgensen.
The one-year deal which had him return to Coventry for the 2015/16 season saw the 30-year-old play a pivotal role in the Blaze making a second consecutive playoff final appearance. This time though it was Blaze who were on the losing end, narrowly missing out to hosts Nottingham Panthers by a score of two to nil.
Two weeks before the playoff finals event, the previously unsure Jorgensen, playing perhaps the best hockey of his career to date quite rightly committed to a further two-year stay in Coventry much to the delight of the adoring Blaze faithful.
“I’m very comfortable here in Coventry, the organization does all they can to make it that way and that does not go unnoticed.”
Able to log huge minutes in all situations, the dependable number 11 thrives on responsibility and says the trust he has earnt in Coventry is one of the reasons for his renewed commitment to the game and the Blaze organisation.
“The minutes and responsibility are a big part of my decision to sign for two more years. The more I play, the more confident and better I feel. I take it as a challenge and rarely are there challenges like that outside of hockey.”
Advanced stats are something which are steadily growing in the hockey world but one relatively basic number which the majority of players pride themselves on is that of plus/minus. The premise is quite simple, if you are on the ice when your team scores a goal even-strength you receive a plus and if you’re shifting when the opposition score you receive a minus. Leading the Blaze over the 2015/16 season in this department was none other than the Sault Saint Marie native who said:
“I was pretty proud of that, but it’s also sometimes a luck thing. It’s a good stat for the most part. But it’s one that is not completely in your control.”
Often described as one of the most under-rated defenceman in the league, the modest American was the fifth leading scoring defenceman in the Erhardt Conference, as well as the man trusted to shut-down every team’s top line, something that did not go unnoticed by Blaze fans who voted him defenceman of the season. The support too has not gone unrecognised by the Jorgensen family as Jim comments:
“I do really appreciate the love from the fans and it does make me proud. The fans have been nothing but great towards Alekz (Jim’s wife) and I. We can’t thank them enough.”
31-years-old in July, another year wiser, Jorgensen says he is looking forward to joining up with a familiar core for another Elite League season.
“All things considered I feel really good about my game and health. The older you get, you tend to do things smarter. Learn from mistakes etc. We have a lot of guy’s back next year which for me is really important. Guys know what to expect from the league as well as knowing each other. So the learning curve should be a lot less, which will help how we start. We need to be much more consistent and be ready for the start of the game. Too many times last season our first period’s killed us.”
One player in particular that Jim is happy to be re-united with is fellow blue-liner Kevin Noble who returns for the second season of a two-year deal.
“We complement and work off each other pretty well, you always love to play with a guy like that. He plays a lot of minutes, and they are hard defensive minutes, blocks lots of shots and annoys the other team. It’s not an easy job and not everyone is built to do that.”
One new face will be behind the Blaze bench with Danny Stewart, formerly of Fife Flyers replacing Chuck Weber, the mastermind of that playoff success which helped breathe new life in to Jorgensen who concludes quite simply:
“I am looking forward to working with him. He wants his players to play hard and I do that so I think he will appreciate that.”