DETROIT – Red Wings forward Patrick Eaves had his jaw reset Friday morning, while the guy who knocked his chops out of alignment in the first place was fined a minuscule $10,000.
Toronto forward Joffrey Lupul cross-checked Eaves on the right side of the head late in the first period of Wednesday’s NHL Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.
Eaves needed to be helped off the ice and did not return to the game, which ended in a 3-2 shootout loss for the Red Wings.
“It was pretty uncomfortable with my jaw being the way it was, my teeth weren’t lined up,” said Eaves, who had the same jaw broken by a shot from Nashville’s Roman Josi on Nov. 26, 2011. “I was pretty sore right away. But it’s back in the right spot and feels a lot better.”
Eaves missed the rest of the 2011-12 season with post-concussion symptoms, and would have missed the beginning of the following season if not for the NHL lockout. His first game back was last Jan. 21 at Columbus.
Donning a protective shield attached to his helmet, Eaves practiced with the fourth line Friday afternoon at City Sports Arena before accompanying the team to Dallas where they begin a four-game road trip that will wind through San Jose, Los Angeles and Anaheim.
“I wanted to play more in the game because it was a huge game,” said Eaves of the Winter Classic. “(Lupul) made the decision to do what he did. Nothing I could do about it. I didn’t see it coming. I was just trying to get the puck out. It is what it is, it’s out of my hands. Now we just got to focus on our two points tomorrow.”
Lupul appeared to be upset went Wings defenseman Jakub Kindl knocked him to the ground as the two jostled for the puck along the boards in the Red Wings’ zone. As Eaves skated over to possess the puck, Lupul got back up and thrust his stick into the right side of Eaves’ head.
While most who witnessed the hit were concerned that Eaves might have suffered another concussion, he dismissed it.
“My head was fine the whole time,” Eaves said. “I was clear and everything. It was just the jaw. I’ve been down that road before and was hoping I didn’t have to go down it again.”
As for the three-minutes that he did get to skate in front of 105,491 fans at The Big House, Eaves called it an once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“It was pretty cool, just to be down there and enjoying it, hear the fans at that level. It was great for the sport,” he said. “It’s different when you’re up in the stands cheering, just a deep roar when you’re down there.”
Meanwhile, Joffrey, who makes $5.25 million per season – which comes out to little more than $64,000 per game – received the stiffest fine permitted under the league’s collective bargaining agreement. Money from the fine will go to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
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