Monday, February 28, 2005
NHL players signing with minor league teams during the lockout is nothing new. Depending on the player and his experience he’s sometimes welcomed with open arms, and in some cases a turn of the back. It’s no secret that well-experienced NHL players don’t always have minor league teammates that are happy to see them. There’s a chance that player is taking away a minor leaguer’s job, and no matter how you feel about it, there are quite a few in the minors who aren’t thrilled about the practice.
So forget about teammates and fans - Mark Eaton, Nashville Predators defenseman, found a way to irk his NHL general manager and the team staff. Eaton signed a contract with the American Hockey League’s Grand Rapids Griffins, the Detroit Red Wings’ top minor-league affiliate.
“It’s very disappointing to both myself and the Nashville Predators that Mark Eaton never called anyone in the organization to let us know where he was going or why,” Poile said yesterday. “I’m definitely very upset. Will this affect our relationship with Mark Eaton going forward? You’re (darn) right it will.”
Apparently the Preds wanted Eaton to play with some of his Nashville teammates in Milwaukee, Nashville’s AHL affiliate, but they wanted to wait until the season was officially cancelled. However, on the day the NHL declared game over, Eaton signed with Grand Rapids. Eaton’s agent, Stephen Bartlett, said it was miscommunication.
To top it off, Eaton scored the game-winning goal in Grand Rapids’ 4-2 win over Milwaukee Friday night.
More from The Tennessean:
Poile said it’s too early to determine whether the events of the last couple of weeks will determine whether or not Eaton plays again for the Predators.
“But obviously I don’t understand why a player wouldn’t pick up the phone and call us,’’ Poile said. ‘‘That doesn’t tell me much.”
Quite a situation.
On the topic of Mark Eaton: his birthplace is listed as Wilmington, DE. Have there been any other NHLers from Delaware?