October 01, 2010
The Swift Current Broncos, not to mention Hockey Canada, got a load off their mind when the Washington Capitals returned 19-year-old centre Cody Eakin to the Western Hockey League.
The big take-home from the news was that Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau, if not exactly expressing frustration with the NHL-or-junior rule, wished that it didn't have to be that way for Eakin, who was the only junior to make it through the end of September at Washington's training camp.
" 'He [Eakin] played in the finals last year; if you can play in the finals of the Calder Cup you should be able to play in the regular season in the American Hockey League,' Boudreau said. 'We probably in a selfish way wish he could be in Hershey, but at the same time, from my experience, when you have a chance to play your last year junior -- and this is totally from me -- and I had a chance to turn pro and they said, "Play your last year junior," and you're a captain and you win the Memorial Cup, it's a memory that will last forever.' " (Washington Post)
Please excuse running over the same ground as a post from earlier this week about Eakin's potential Team Canada teammate, Windsor Spitfires captain Ryan Ellis, who had an extended training camp run with the Nashville Predators. One coach's comments do not a groundswell for change make, but it shows people have fallen into that line of thinking.
Eakin, with 47 goals and 91 points in his age-18 season, factored into almost 40 per cent of Swiftie's scoring. He was dominant in the Dub, and might not be far from the reaching a threshhold where he's learned all he can in major junior.
Ironically, the WaPo says, "Eakin's situation is much like what happened to defenseman John Carlson two years ago when he impressed during training camp but was ultimately returned to the OHL for another year with the London Knights. Returning to juniors certainly didn't hamper Carlson's development."
The difference then was Carlson was 18 and had been drafted out of the USHL. The following season, when he was the same age Eakin and Ellis now are, the Capitals put him in the American Hockey League. Just trying to capture the spirit of the thing.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Sports Canada. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.