“Oh great”. That was Detroit forward Patrick Eaves’ rather tepid response to seeing his name next to that of the savvy utilitarian Danny Cleary, and the physics-defying magician Pavel Datsyuk, on the lineup sheet. Now if I were Patrick Eaves, I would be a bit more animated if I saw my name on a line with two of our best forwards.
People should remember, that Eaves scored 20 goals as a rookie when he laced up for the Senators. I am unaware of who Eaves’ lineys were in Ottawa, but I do know, that they were not Datsyuk and Cleary. If I had my way, Hudler would be skating with numbers 11 and 13. But coach Babcock apparently saw something in Eaves that persuaded him that the somewhat unproven forward is scoring line material. I think I see it too.
Whenever the recently retired Kirk Maltby scored for the Wings, our gregarious color man, Mickey Redmond, could always be relied on to say the following: “There are those fifty goal in junior hands, baby.” Yes, Mickey, we know Maltby scored fifty goals in junior, and we also know, that those hands stayed in junior.
My point is, I initially thought Eaves would be a Maltby type player. A player that the literally colorful Don Cherry would describe as “cannon fodder.” Then, some moments came that gave me some pause. Although a checking line player, Eaves continually showed an ability to finish his chances with his impressive release, and those chances did not come often. Of course, that will change if Datsyuk remains his new centerman.
Eaves, to me, looks a bit larger than his six feet, 191 pounds. But if Eaves stays with Pav and Cleary, his job will be simply to get open, and six feet, 191 pounds, is certainly big enough to do that. It is undeniably true, that lines seldom stay together for an entire season, and the fact that Eaves is skating with Datsyuk and Cleary in training camp, certainly does not mean that things will stay that way. But this is certainly an intriguing experiment that doctor Babcock is conducting, and so far, the results have been encouraging. Let’s hope that Eaves can regain that scoring touch, and then some.