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Patrick Eaves’ broken jaw doesn’t necessarily mean that the Red Wings will recall a replacement

As Paul already posted, the Red Wings’ doctors have decided that Patrick Eaves will need surgery to repair his broken jaw, and he’s going to miss about two months’ worth of hockey as he recovers.

The news regarding Eaves’ injury didn’t stop the Wings from sending Fabian Brunnstrom back down to Grand Rapids, however, and just as Wings GM Ken Holland downplayed Eaves’ surgery as something the Wings have become familiar with while speaking to the Free Press’s Helene St. James...

General manager Ken Holland said this afternoon he expects Eaves to miss 6-to-8 weeks, though “we’ll know more after he’s had the surgery. But Danny Cleary had a broken jaw, Brad Stuart, and that’s about the time they missed.”

Holland also told the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness that, given Brunnstrom’s status as the team’s 13th forward Cory Emmerton’s strong showing as the team’s new fourth line center has essentially bumped Brunnstrom from the lineup), and given the fact that Jan Mursak is starting to progress in terms of his return from a broken ankle, the team doesn’t really need to call an extra body up from Grand Rapids:

Holland said he’s going to talk to coach Mike Babcock before deciding what to do with the open spot on the roster. The Wings have 12 healthy forwards after assigning Fabian Brunnstrom, whose wife is expecting the birth of their first child any day now, back to Grand Rapids on Sunday.

Cory Emmerton was a healthy scratch Saturday.

“I’m not going to call up anybody from Grand Rapids just to have as an extra forward,” Holland said. “We’re also about a month away from (Jan) Mursak coming back. He’s started skating a little bit.”

Mursak broke his ankle on Sept. 25 and is expected back before or just after Christmas.

Holland expects him to ramp up his skating this week.

“It looks like he’s on schedule,” Holland said.

The Wings want to give Brunnstrom the opportunity to regain his confidence by playing major minutes for the Griffins, so I’m guessing that if his girlfriend wasn’t expecting the couple’s first child, Brunnstrom wouldn’t have spent the past two weeks on the I-96 shuttle (maybe I should camp out at exit 153A and wave when he drives by?)—the Wings clearly remain high on Brunnstrom’s eventual ability to find his NHL footing, but he’s just not going to find it while playing eight to twelve minutes a night every third game in Detroit…

And one could very well argue that the Wings have several forwards in the system who could benefit from the opportunity to impress the front office and/or provide an assessment of their professional progression in Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar (who has something to prove to the Wings’ management as Nyquist has leapfrogged Tatar—with fifty vertical feet of clearance—on the team’s depth chart), Chris Conner and Joakim Andersson, so it just makes more sense to ask Brunnstrom to take one step back for the sake of skating half a dozen forward down the line.

As for Eaves, we’re not sure what kind of fracture he sustained—whether the transfer of energy from puck hitting unprotected ear yielded a fracture to the joint connecting his jawbone to his skull, whether he suffered a spiral or complex fracture to his upper or lower jaw as it absorbed the impact of Roman Josi’s slap shot, or whether his upper or lower jaw just cracked at some point—and while Holland sounded optimistic about Eaves’ recovery…

“They did a CAT scan and everything else is OK,” Holland said. “When you get a direct blow to the head and there’s a helmet to soften the blow it’s not surprising he’s got a broken jaw. That’s bad enough, but the good news is there are no injuries beyond the broken jaw.”

Danny Cleary, who still has some nerve damage in his jaw from the surgery required to repair his face after taking a Mikael Samuelsson slap shot face-first, reminded Pleiness that, even with the use of endoscopes, arthroscopes and minimally invasive surgery in which small incisions in the mouth are used to more or less bolt together jaw fractures with tiny titanium plates, it isn’t just the, “They wire your teeth shut” part of jaw surgery that remains somewhat macabre, if not medieval in its brutality and potential to cause long-term damage to a joint which bristles with the kind of nerve endings, small-but-important muscles and blood vessels which are important for speaking, eating, tasting, feeling heat and cold, etc….and all those tiny parts are of crowded by one’s teeth, tongue, throat and, in the case of the upper jaw, sinus cavities*:

“If you think about it, what if it’s his jaw? I was out for seven weeks,” Cleary said after White got injured. “It’s terrible. You don’t want a broken jaw, ever.”

Holland reiterated his stance regarding calling up Brunnstrom or anyone else when otherwise unnecessary while speaking to MLive’s Ansar Khan:

The Red Wings have 12 healthy forwards after assigning Fabian Brunnstrom to the Grand Rapids Griffins on Sunday. His wife is expecting their first child any day now.

“We wanted him to play in Grand Rapids and practice with the Red Wings,’’ Holland said. “I’ll talk to (coach) Mike Babcock and see if we want to call him up for Wednesday (vs. Tampa Bay at Joe Louis Arena) or go with (Cory) Emmerton (a healthy scratch on Saturday). I’m not going to call up anybody from Grand Rapids just to have as an extra forward.’‘

Holland said right wing Jan Mursak, who suffered a broken ankle on Sept. 25, has starting skating a little bit on his own and will ramp it up this week. He’s on schedule to return either shortly before or after Christmas.

And I suppose DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose offers the most disturbing reminder as to the nature of this year’s injury bug (which seems to focus on one part of the body for some reason), and the theme for the 2011-2012 season appears to be, “Not the Face!”

Eaves is the fourth Wings’ player this month to sustain a serious head/face injury, joining Jiri Hudler (eye), Ian White (fractured cheekbone) and Drew Miller (upper lip). White and Miller were injured by moving pucks. Hudler was hurt when he was pushed face-first into the boards.

Niklas Kronwall avoided a serious head or neck injury when St. Louis forward Chris Strewart hit the Wings’ defenseman with an illegal hit from behind in the first period at Scottrade Center on Nov. 15. Luckily for the Wings, the play looked worse than it actually was, but nonetheless, Stewart received a game-misconduct penalty and a two-game suspension from the league.

*Here’s hoping that Eaves’ injury doesn’t require a major repair to the upper or lower jaw. When I had sleep apnea eleven years ago, the only “foolproof” remedy was “maxillomandibular advancement surgery,” which involved breaking the lower jaw and tacking it a centimeter or two forward with titanium plates, and then literally breaking the upper jaw and palate from the skull and tacking that a centimeter or two forward as well. It’s pretty gruesome stuff, to the point that my ear-nose-throat doctors would shake their heads and all but shudder when discussing its impact on patients and its potential complications, so I’m very glad that I had throat surgery instead. Jaw surgery is still one of those endeavors which can veer into, “Do we really want to do this to a human being?” territory, and it scares the hell out of me. I hope Eaves’ surgery is minor and as minimally invasive as possible, because it’s gonna hurt and it’s gonna be pretty awful to recover from.


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christpuncher's avatar

: (

Posted by christpuncher from Detroit, MI on 11/27/11 at 07:48 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

Sounds awful. I feel so bad for him.

Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 11/27/11 at 09:28 PM ET

TheRealYooper's avatar

what the ‘ell? i leave and go out of state for the weekend, in a hockey black hole so to speak, and when i get home, another wing is down?!!

note to self. don’t leave the state until summer.

Posted by TheRealYooper from within sight of the edge of the Earth. on 11/27/11 at 10:42 PM ET


Lots of that important shit comes from below and inside the jaw, george. I don’t think taste could be impaired, and I KNOW speech would be fine. A lot of the same nerves involved, but different branches.  But, things like feeling of heat, cold, pain/sharpness/pressure of the right side of his jaw could certainly be impacted for a long time, if not forever. Fortunately peripheral nerves are able to regenerate, unlike the CNS, so it’s always possible things can improve again, even if there is nerve damage.
    As far as mandibular advancement surgery, I think the only time they use that anymore is for debilitating TMJ Disorder, where people can’t eat becuase the jaw hurts so much or can’t think because the head aches are so bad. Frequntly if the mandible is that bad, they have to adjust the maxilla at the same time. That means they cut the top of the mouth right between the front teeth and between the nasal orifice and plate that in several places as well. Fixes all kinds of problems, but it’s a brutal surgery.
  Anyhoooo… no doubt it’s a serious surgery and I’m sure he won’t go far from a pair of wirecutters for a while. Fortunately, they are starting to not always wire mandibular fractures shut. Sometimes they just band them instead. Gotta hope for the best.

Posted by teldar on 11/28/11 at 01:18 AM ET

SYF's avatar

And Eaves was having a terrific defensive game.  Just bad luck.  Get well soon, Eaves.

Wings like to have two extra forwards in the lineup so I understand completely what Holland is doing.

Posted by SYF from Twerkin' with Anastasia Ashley on 11/28/11 at 02:44 AM ET

red_wings_49's avatar

I’m sorry… I’d go nuts having to eat food through a straw… ugh.

Posted by red_wings_49 from Mad Heights, MI on 11/30/11 at 04:01 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.