– Patrick Eaves
was taken off the ice on a stretcher after he was struck on the right side of the head with a high-rising slap shot by Nashville's Roman Josi Saturday night at Joe Louis Arena.
Eaves, 27, suffered a broken jaw when he was hit by a puck shot by the Predators' rookie defenseman. Eaves was taken to Detroit Medical Center (DMC) where he will remain overnight for observation. He will likely have to undergo further evaluation over the next several days to determine is surgery is required.
As for Josi, the incident that occurred with 2:14 left in the game, was an ominous ending to the beginning to his NHL career.
“I just wanted to one-time it and get it to the net,” said Josi, who was making his league debut Saturday. “It's too bad I hit him. I hope he's alright and he's going to be fine.”
Almost immediately Josi skated to where Eaves was laying – near the top of the right face-off circle in the Wings’ zone – and offered his sincere apologies and concern.
“You don't want to see a player go down and be taken off on a stretcher,” Josi said. “I felt bad. I said that to him and he said it's alright and he's going to be fine. That was good he stood up alone and got on the stretcher.”
It appeared that Eaves never lost consciousness, however he was bleeding from or somewhere close to the ear. With ambulance lights flashing and siren blaring, Eaves was rushed from the arena to DMC. He was accompanied to the hospital by Russ Baumann, the team’s assistant athletic therapist.
“Really scary play, I mean he’s too close to the guy to get hit in the ear,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I don’t know … the puck elevated obviously. The guy isn’t trying to shoot it that high from that close, so I don’t know what happened.”
As Josi got ready to unleash a shot from the right point late in the third period, Eaves moved into the shooting lane, dropped to his right knee, and just as the puck took flight, he turned his head to the left.
Training staffs from both teams and Wings' team doctors rushed to Eaves' side. He was able to stand up and get on the stretcher under his own power.
As paramedics wheeled the stretcher toward the doors to the Zamboni entrance, the Wings' forward gave a ‘thumbs up” sign to the concerned crowd that gave him a standing ovation and chanted his name as he left the rink.
It was Eaves’s first game in the lineup since playing Nov. 15 in St. Louis. He fired five shots on goal against the Predators, tying him with Danny Cleary
for the team-high Saturday. The Wings won the game, 4-1, stretching their winning streak to five straight.
“We don't know if the helmet helped out a little bit,” forward Henrik Zetterberg
said. “He was moving, but of course he's in a lot of pain. Hopefully he'll be OK.”
Eaves is the fourth Wings’ player this month to have a head and/or facial injury. Jiri Hudler
needed 26 stitches to close two cuts around his left eye when he was pushed into the boards Nov. 3 against Calgary. Ian White
suffered a fractured right cheekbone and received 13 stitches after he prevented a Dallas Stars' goal on Nov. 12. And Drew Miller
needed 17 stitches to repair his upper lip after he was struck in the mouth by a puck against the Flames on Thanksgiving eve.
“Yeah, I saw (Eaves) get hit, not exactly where it hit, but it’s terrible,” forward Valtteri Filppula
said. “Hopefully it’s nothing too serious and he can join us soon. Obviously those are always scary things and he blocks a lot of shots and sacrifices, so gotta hope that he’s OK.”Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill