Men’s hockey: Newton enjoying NHL life

Men’s hockey: Newton enjoying NHL life

Freshman Jake Newton’s tenure in a Husky uniform lasted just one season as the men’s hockey defenseman signed with the Anaheim Ducks of the NHL March 17. Newton, a native of San Jacinto, Calif., led all NU defensemen in scoring last season with nine goals and 13 assists, including 13 points on the power play.
By: Jared Shafran, News Staff

After just one full season at Northeastern, men’s hockey freshman defenseman Jake Newton decided to skip town early, signing a three-year entry-level deal with the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks.

This could be a blow to the Huskies defense as Newton had a big impact in his freshman campaign, leading all defensemen in scoring with nine goals and 13 assists.

Growing up in San Jacinto, Calif., about 60 miles east of Anaheim, Newton said that once the Ducks offered him a contract, it was hard to say no.

“It was an offer that I couldn’t see myself refusing, being from California, being about an hour or so away from Anaheim,” Newton said in a phone interview with the News. “I just don’t think anybody given this opportunity would have turned it down and I couldn’t see myself doing it, so I decided to take it and I’m very happy I did. I’m having a great time out here.”

It wasn’t just any offer either: The Ducks proposed a maximum offer (the highest contract offer available for rookie free agents) to Newton, who couldn’t be happier to be back home.

“Being at home, it was just something I couldn’t push away; something I couldn’t refuse,” Newton said. “I don’t think anybody would have a hard time playing professional hockey in their home state.”

When the Huskies season ended early after missing the Hockey East playoffs by one point, Newton said there were multiple NHL teams interested immediately.

“The Friday after the season ended I got an offer from Washington and two days later Anaheim heard about it and they came with an offer,” Newton said.

The defenseman said he had been talking with his agent about potentially turning professional after the season and if his play had kept up, the offers would come.

“Every time I talked to my agent he just came to me with more and more good news,” Newton said. “After the Beanpot is when I got the biggest news that I had received all year. From that moment on it just started setting in and becoming a reality that if I continued to play well, I’d most likely be getting an offer after the season.”

The signing came March 17, just days before the 21-year-old was selected to the Hockey East All-Rookie team. Newton, who skated in every game for the Huskies this season, was second among all rookie defensemen in the league in scoring and amassed 13 power play points.

“I never wanted to stay for the whole four years just because I’m not a big fan of school,” Newton said. “I didn’t mind it, but I just felt it was too hard to balance both school and hockey. It was hard letting the coaches know.”

But just because Newton left school early doesn’t mean that he didn’t care about the team while he was here. Newton played through the last weekend of games against Boston University with pneumonia, trying to get his team to the playoffs.

Newton, who is listed on the Ducks website as No. 58, has been practicing with the team and is eligible to dress for games. The remainder of the 2009-10 season counts as the first year on his contract.

“There’s been a lot of people in my life that have sacrificed quite a bit for me to get to where I am now and with the support group I got out here, I just feel like as soon as I do get in a game that’s one way I can pay people back is just giving them an opportunity to come out and watch me,” Newton said. “That’s what my eyes are set on for next season. I just hope I can make the team and wear that jersey for the first time next season.”

So far, although he has not appeared in any games, Newton said it hasn’t taken long to get used to the life of an NHL player.

“I went on the western Canada trip with them just last week and we went through Calgary first and then Vancouver and then Edmonton,” Newton said. “It was all first class seating on the airplane. The food you got was second to none. A ribeye steak and lasanga for a meal on an airplane is something I’ve never received before and it was unbelievable.”

Newton said that his favorite city on the trip was Vancouver, Canada.

“The hotel I stayed at in Vancouver was probably the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed at and the town there is unbelievable,” he said. “It was definitely a great experience to see how they get around from game to game and it’s first class all the way.”

Even though he said being treated as a professional was great, Newton said the best part of his NHL experience so far has been the ability to play alongside some big name players like Teemu Selane, Scott Niedermayer and Ryan Getzlaf.

“Teemu is actually a pretty funny guy,” Newton said. “I almost feel honored to be in the same locker room with a guy like that. I grew up watching him when he was nicknamed the Finnish Flash and I can still remember his celebration when he was playing for Winnipeg. Scott Niedermayer, knowing he’s going to be an instant hall of famer along with Teemu. It’s obviously something I’ve never experienced before and it’s exciting but at the same time you’ve got to act professional like you’ve been here before so that’s what I try to do.”

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