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Eaves works out on Pavel's line

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich.Patrick Eaves began his NHL career as a top-six forward, popping in 20 goals for the Ottawa Senators as a rookie six years ago. Since then, he’s played many roles, but over the last two seasons, he has contributed on the fourth line and killed penalties for the Red Wings.

But Saturday morning, Eaves learned that his role might change when he saw a roster sheet taped to a locker room wall at Centre I.C.E. Arena. On it, Eaves was listed with Danny Cleary and Pavel Datsyuk as the top line for Team Delvecchio at training camp.

“I saw it on the sheet, and I thought, ‘Oh, great,’ ” said Eaves, he has 25 goals and 17 assists in two seasons with the Wing. “This is an opportunity, and I’m going to enjoy it.”

Coach Mike Babcock warned that the forward lines aren’t carved in stone, and a couple of roster spots need to be filled in the next few weeks. The coaching staff, Babcock said, wants to see many different line combinations before finalizing anything prior to the start of the NHL regular-season.

It certainly didn’t take long for Eaves to make the most of his new linemates. He scored a second-period tying goal that helped Team Delvecchio to a 2-1 comeback win over Team Howe, in the Wings’ first scrimmage of training camp Sunday. The scrimmage was two 25-minute periods with running time.

“You can play out here with anyone, and everyone would be great,” Eaves said. “Then there is another level with Pavel. I’m trying to get used to playing with those guys. Obviously, you see a different game.

“When they have the puck you can go and get open, and they will draw men to them, a couple at a time. You just have to keep your stick on the ice, because (the puck) will eventually come through.”

Eaves signed a three-year contract in July to remain with the Wings, but an increased role as a top-six forward wasn’t part of his final decision to stay in Detroit, he said.

“I started out in a role to score goals, and a couple of years later my role changed, and I enjoyed that too,” Eaves said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s the first day of camp, and I’d love to score goals, but if I have to stop goals, that’s fine too. I don’t mind that.”

Eaves and Fabian Brunnstrom, who is on a professional tryout, scored second-period goals to lift Team Delvecchio to a 2-1 win over Team Howe.

Team Delvecchio goalie Ty Conklin played the first period and made big stops on prospects Ryan Sproul and Andrej Nestrasil just seconds apart.

Team Howe’s lone goal was scored by center Valtteri Filppula, who was rewarded for going hard to the net when he scored on Conklin in the first period.

“I thought that Fil scored a great goal going to the net, so that was great to see,” Babcock said.

The Wings mourn the passing of Earl Cook, who lost his long and courageous battle with cancer Sunday. An amazing 23-year-old, Cook had befriended Babcock and many players.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Earl and family,” Babcock said. “Earl had an unbelievable spirit that allowed him to battle through a long list of challenges that most of us are fortunate to never know.

“He served as a fantastic role model for myself and our team. He may have passed today, but with the way he lived his life, he never allowed this disease to beat him.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill

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