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Eaves thrilled with mutual respect

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT – For Patrick Eaves, his new three-year contract with the Red Wings was a perfect two-way street.

“They wanted me to be here for three years and I want to be here for three years,” said Eaves, who avoided free agency when he reached an agreement July 1 worth $3.6 million to remain in Detroit. “Anytime you can both agree to that, it’s pretty nice.”
Tomas Holmstrom prepares to lead a drill with Justin Abdelkader and Doug Janik. (Photo by Bill Roose)

A former Hobey Baker finalist with Boston College, Eaves has made a home with the Wings as a grinding forward. He has become a valuable contributor to the team’s penalty-killing efforts, ranking fourth among Wings in average short-handed time of ice per game (2:41).

Last season, Eaves had 13 goals and seven assists in 63 games, including a career-best four-point performance in a 7-3 win at Dallas in December.

“In the end, this is where I felt most comfortable, and where I think I can get better every day – and that’s the most important thing to me,” said Eaves, whose uncle, Murray Eaves, played for the Wings from 1987-90. “We were doing those one-year deals for the past two years. It’s part of the process, to hopefully get a longer term deal, and to my wife, it’s a lot better. For me, it’s still season-by-season. So it’s really nice to have that.”

Heading into his third season with the Wings, Eaves feels at home in his role, even though that role has evolved from his rookie season with the Ottawa Senators.

“You have to play in the roles that you’re put in,” he said. “When I started out in Ottawa I was put in a scoring role. As things progressed here I’m in more of a checking role. I don’t mind doing either. You need both to win.”

Even though Chris Osgood, Kris Draper, Brian Rafalski, Mike Modano, Ruslan Salei have moved on, and a few new faces will fill the Wings’ dressing room this season, including new assistant coaches Jeff Blashill and Bill Peters, the overall expectations will be the same, Eaves said.

“I have some of my best friends in this locker room, and to be able to play with them on a daily basis is something that I really appreciated about coming back here,” Eaves said. “I like the system that we play here. It’s up-tempo and fast. Then with the new coaches, it will be different. I haven’t met them yet, but with Coach (Mike) Babcock here I know how he expects us to play, so being familiar is a good thing.”

COACH OZZIE: Chris Osgood, who was back at Joe Louis Arena Wednesday, said he’s anxious to begin the new chapter of his life as the Wings’ goaltending development coach.

In his new role, Osgood will work primarily with the club’s young goalies in Grand Rapids, Toledo and Ottawa.

“I’m looking forward to working with the young guys once I get up to Traverse City,” Osgood said. “I’m looking forward to coaching young guys, mentoring. I’m really excited about it.”

Osgood also envisions that his new gig will include some amateur scouting.

“I would imagine that I’ll go to the World Juniors and watch the goalies that are ranked in the top of their leagues,” he said. “So I think I’ll have to travel quite a bit.”

Asked to compare his new role to that of another recent retiree, who is now the special assistant to the GM, Osgood said, “Drapes doesn’t have to go on the ice. I’m in the trenches. He’s up in the box.”

Coaching wasn’t something that Osgood thought of months prior to his retirement announcement this summer, but the idea surfaced as he began talking about the future with Wings general manager Ken Holland.

“I talked to Kenny about it briefly, but not much while I was playing,” Osgood said. “It’s something that you don’t talk about very often. But when I told him that I was retiring, we talked about it (coaching) at length for quite awhile.”

LOCAL FLAVOR: Several Detroit area NHL prospects skated at Day 3 of the Wings’ informal practice Wednesday at The Joe, including former Warren native Jason DeSantis, who recently signed with the Winnipeg Jets’ organization.

Valtteri Filppula participated in Wednesday's informal skate. (Photo by Bill Roose)
DeSantis, a defenseman, was joined by several local NHL prospects who participated, including forward A.J. Jenks (FLA), center Shawn Szydlowski (BUF), defenseman Matt Taormina (NJD) and goalie Pat Nagle (TBL).

DeSantis played for HoneyBaked and attended Warren Mott High School before going to the U.S. National Development Team in Ann Arbor. Last season, he had seven goals and 25 assists while playing in Pittsburgh’s minor league system for Wilkes-Barre (AHL) and Wheeling (ECHL).

The Jets will be the third NHL organization in four years for DeSantis, who’s enthusiastic about a fresh start with a new club.
“I think I needed a change,” he said. “I spent the year before with the Philadelphia organization and spent a year in Europe. I’m glad that I’m getting an opportunity with a new team and a great organization. I’m excited about it.”

RED WINGS NOTEBOOK: Forward Valtteri Filppula is the 11th Red Wings player to participate in this week’s informal on-ice workouts. Nicklas Lidstrom, Tomas Holmstrom, Drew Miller, Patrick Eaves, Jakub Kindl, Chris Conner and Doug Janik are the only players that have skated each day. Danny Cleary, Jan Mursak and Justin Abdelkader have skated in at least one session.

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill
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