"I went through the medical school application process and was accepted, but when this offer (by Detroit) came knocking on the door, I turned it down to see how far I could take my hockey career. When my hockey career is done, I'll be going back to school and begin a career in medicine, but whether that's two years or 10 years from now, I don't know."
-- Jordan Pearce
After all, he carried a 3.8 grade-point average with a double major in pre-med and anthropology at Notre Dame. Every waking hour in South Bend, Ind., must have been spent in research to ensure all that academic success, so why not go head-first into the managerial makeup of an NHL franchise?
"It was a thrill and offers were coming from different teams, but Detroit is such a great organization," Pearce told NHL.com. "I did research and talked to some guys and everyone I talked to said they treat their prospects very well and take the time to nurture them. It's not a carousel where they bring guys in and out. They like to develop guys and I like that kind of commitment."
Commitment never has been much of a problem for Pearce. In addition making the dean's list at Notre Dame in 2009, Pearce was a finalist for player of the year in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association after going 30-6-3 with a 1.68 goals-against average, .931 save percentage and eight shutouts while leading the Irish to both the CCHA regular-season and playoff titles.
For now, however, Pearce has put his medical career on hold.
"I went through the medical school application process and was accepted, but when this offer (by Detroit) came knocking on the door, I turned it down to see how far I could take my hockey career," Pearce told NHL.com. "When my hockey career is done, I'll be going back to school and begin a career in medicine, but whether that's two years or 10 years from now, I don't know."
Pearce impressed Detroit's coaches enough to earn an invite to training camp and backed up goalies Thomas McCollum, Detroit's 2008 first-round draft pick, and Daniel Larsson in Grand Rapids earlier this season before being reassigned to the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL.
"He's lost 15 pounds since rookie camp and I noticed right away that he's quicker," Red Wings goalie coach Jim Bedard said of Pearce. "He recovers more and his stamina is better -- I'm glad he was on a weight-loss program and worked at it. When a kid comes back less 15 pounds in over a 7-8 week span, he's figured it out. He looks good and he'll work his way up the ladder."
Pearce is looking forward to the challenge.
"It was definitely eye-opening when I had a chance to play in Grand Rapids last year," Pearce said. "It was nice to get some confidence knowing what has to be done. It kind of prepared me so I knew I wouldn't be so nervous or anxious entering this season. I wasn't too concerned with what it would be like. I was kind of over that nervous anxiety of not knowing what was going to happen and that allowed me to focus and say to myself, 'Hey, I have a lot of work to do if I want to compete and play very well at this level.' "
"Right now, (McCollum) is slated to back up Daniel Larsson in Grand Rapids," Bedard said. "Jimmy Howard is finally getting a sniff after four years and, as we know, (GM) Kenny Holland likes his players over-ripe prior to coming up. It's that Red Wings University mentality where you spend 3-4 years working your way up."
Holland feels competition in goal has its benefits and will motivate Pearce even more.
"Anything is possible," Holland said. "I mean, can (McCollum) pass (Larsson)? Maybe, but we're hoping with Pearce, McCollum, Larsson and Jimmy Howard, we now have depth with our young goalies. We're hoping that in 2-3 years that two or three of these guys are really established as pros and we have tough decisions to make."
That's something Pearce is counting on. But while it might look like he's in a heated competition with McCollum for playing time in Grand Rapids, that's quite the contrary.
"You can't really say, 'I don't like this guy because he's the one beating me out,' so it's just up to you to play your best," Pearce said. "I'm not competing against them, I'm competing with them and whoever plays well will play. I can't worry about what he's doing and I'll encourage (McCollum) because he's a great guy and I'll wish him the best. But really, I want to focus on myself and whatever the guys upstairs decide is where I'll wind up."
Contact Mike Morreale at email@example.com