Even with a famous hockey name like Eaves, there is no place for nepotism at center ice. Just ask Patrick Eaves, son of former NHLer and current University of Wisconsin Men’s Head Coach Mike Eaves, who has had to scratch, claw and fight his way to the top.
Now entering his sixth season in the NHL, Eaves has discovered that the path to the pros is never easy, no matter the gene pool.
A renowned player at a young age, Eaves attended prep school at Shattuck-St. Mary’s before playing two seasons for his father at the National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Mich.
While his father was often tough on the younger of his two sons, that tough love paid great dividends. The father and son combo etched their names in the USA Hockey and international record books, helping the U.S. snap a 69-year drought in IIHF World Championship events when they teamed up to win the 2002 World Under-18 Championship in Slovakia.
From there it was on to Boston College, where his brother Ben was two years ahead of him. Still, Patrick made a name for himself, collecting numerous athletic accolades including Hockey East Player of the Year, All-American and All-Conference honors, and Hobey Baker finalist.
During his sophomore year, Eaves took a break from Beantown to represent the United States at the 2004 IIHF World Junior Championship under a familiar head coach – his dad.
Patrick Eaves | #59
“Playing for my dad was great,” said the younger Eaves, who pitched in with six points playing on a line with future NHLers Patrick O’Sullivan and Ryan Kesler.
“What made it even better was wearing that USA jersey and playing with some of the guys I did. We were able to really push each other, which is why we succeeded like we did.”
Take a talented roster featuring future NHL and Olympic stars such as Zach Parise, Jimmy Howard and Mark Stuart, add a brilliant coaching staff that got the most of all 20 players, and you have a winning recipe that led to the United States’ first gold medal at the World Under-20 Championship.
And while so much has happened in the six years since winning the World Juniors, the on-ice celebration in Hameenlinna, Finland remains a special memory for father and son.
“The fact that we were able to share that whole experience together not just as coach and player, but as father and son was great,” Mike Eaves said. “To win a championship to begin with is something special, but to be able to share it directly with your son is something truly extraordinary.”
With his accomplishments and accolades continuing to build, the future looked bright for Eaves, who was selected in the first round of the 2003 NHL Draft by the
But after three injury-filled seasons in Ottawa and two more with the Carolina Hurricanes, Eaves made his way back to Michigan as a member of the Detroit Red Wings.
Playing the role of a tough-nosed energy guy, Eaves cracked the talented Red Wings lineup in 65 games during the 2009-10 season, notching 12 goals and 10 assists.
“I try to fill whatever hole the team needs,” said the gritty right-winger. “I wouldn’t say that I have gone in to more of a defensive or offensive role, but I definitely try to play an all-around game. My main role [with the Red Wings] is to play fast, kill penalties and create some havoc, and I try to do that on a nightly basis.”
And watching from afar, dad is proud of how his son has adapted and adjusted to his changing role in the game.
“I’m proud of the fact that he’s [Patrick] been able to adapt to the needs of a team,” Eaves said. “If you’re going to play for any length at any level you have to adapt to what the team needs and because Patrick has been able to do that, he’s extended his career.”
In the Midwest and throughout the Northeast, ice scrapers can be valuable commodities for those driving in the dead cold of winter. But in Key West, Fla., where the temperature rarely dips below 60 degrees, an ice scraper has taken on a different meaning for one 10-year-old boy.
Joey Eppy was first bitten by the hockey bug after attending a New York Rangers game and receiving a hockey stick shaped ice scraper as a souvenir. According to his parents, the ice scraper just scratched the surface of his budding hockey passion.
With little available ice in their hometown at the southern-most point of the United States, Eppy began playing inline hockey. As his passion grew, he eventually joined an ice hockey travel team in Pembroke Pines, Fla.
Now, when Eppy isn’t competing at weekend tournaments with the Golden Wolves Squirt A travel team, he can often be found outside his parents’ tattoo shop with a lemonade stand, putting his profits toward his hockey costs.