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Red Wings prospect Ryan Sproul named OHL’s defenseman of year; Wings nominate Eaves for Masterton

A Red Wings prospect and a current Wings player received and were nominated for significant awards, respectively, this afternoon:

Soo Greyhounds defenseman and Red Wings prospect Ryan Sproul, who's turning pro with the Grand Rapids Griffins, was named the OHL's defenseman of the year. From the Ontario Hockey League...

The Ontario Hockey League today announced that Ryan Sproul of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds is the 2012-13 recipient of the Max Kaminsky Trophy awarded annually to the OHL’s Most Outstanding Defenceman of the Year.

Sproul led all OHL defencemen in scoring with 66 points in just 50 games tying teammate Colin Miller for the league-lead in goals among blueliners with 20 while adding 46 assists.  He becomes just the third member of the Greyhounds to win Defenceman of the Year honours following current Los Angeles King Jake Muzzin (2009-10), and Columbus Blue Jackets Associate Coach Craig Hartsburg (1976-77).

"This is the greatest accomplishment of my life to date,” Sproul said.  “I am extremely honoured to be given this award and I have to thank the Greyhound organization for everything they have done for me over the last 3 years."

A 20-year-old from Mississauga, ON, Sproul was selected in the sixth round of the 2009 OHL Priority Selection and played three seasons with the Greyhounds.  This season he was one of three defenceman to claim OHL Player of the Week honours and was also named Defenceman of the Month in both December and February.  Sproul led the league with representation in four different categories of the annual Western Conference Coaches Poll including first place honours with the Hardest Shot for the second straight season, also named Best Offensive Defenceman after finishing second in voting last season.  He also finished second in the Best Skater category, and finished tied for second in the Best Shot category for the second straight season.  Sproul competed for Team OHL in the SUBWAY Super Series before earning an invite to Canada’s National Junior Team Selection Camp.  Selected in the second round of the 2011 NHL Draft by the Detroit Red Wings, Sproul joined the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins following the completion of the Greyhounds’ post-season.

"In each of the past two seasons, Ryan Sproul has not only shown tremendous skill and ability on the ice, but he has also shown tremendous resolve in battling through two very serious injuries,” said Greyhounds General Manager Kyle Dubas.  “In the face of both injuries, Ryan persevered, came back sooner than expected and continued to make great strides as a player. Ryan developed over his time with our program into one of biggest scoring threats in the league using his combination of elite skating and shooting ability. Off the ice, Ryan was one of the leaders of our Kewadin Cares program and spent a lot of his free time in hospitals visiting patients. Ryan is a deserving winner of the Max Kaminsky Trophy for his play on the ice and his conduct in our community.  Our program is extremely proud to see Ryan's name join Jake Muzzin and Craig Hartsburg as winners of the Max Kaminsky Trophy while donning the Soo Greyhounds jersey. "

The Max Kaminsky Trophy is awarded each year to the Most Outstanding Defenceman as selected by OHL General Managers.  Teams were not permitted to vote for their own nominee.  Players received five points for a first place vote, three points for a second place vote and one point for a third place vote.

Sproul received 80 of the maximum 95 points in the voting process ahead of Scott Harrington of the London Knights with 59 points finishing runner-up for the award for the second straight year.  Dylan DeMelo of the Mississauga Steelheads finished in third place with 17 voting points.

Winners of the Max Kaminsky Trophy include Al MacInnis (Kitchener 1982-83), Chris Pronger (Peterborough 1992-93), Brian Campbell (Ottawa 1998-99), James Wisniewski (Plymouth 2003-04), Marc Staal (Sudbury 2006-07), Drew Doughty (Guelph 2007-08), and Ryan Ellis (Windsor Spitfires 2008-09 and 2010-11).  Boston Bruins rookie Dougie Hamilton won the award last season with the Niagara IceDogs.

The award is named in recognition of Max Kaminsky, who enjoyed a 10-year professional playing career that included four years in the NHL with Ottawa, Boston, and Montreal.  After he retired from playing, Kaminsky enjoyed a 15-year coaching career that was capped by winning the Memorial Cup with the St. Catherine's Teepees in 1960.

Sproul will be formally presented with the Max Kaminsky Trophy at the OHL Awards Ceremony which take place June 4 at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.  He will also be the OHL’s nominee for CHL Defenceman of the Year.

And on the current Red Wings' roster, from DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose (and this is just a snippet of an excellent article)...

It’s been about seven months since Patrick Eaves last experienced the kind of debilitating headaches that made him a prisoner in his own home for more than a year. Despite the migraines, which were so bad at times that he couldn’t sleep, and often dealt with bouts of depression, he always remained positive and promised myself that he would return to the Red Wings’ lineup.

“I didn’t know how long it would take,” he said. “I just knew that I would be back at some point. I had a lot of rough days in there though.”

It was an arduous journey for the Wings’ forward who was forced to endure months of rehabilitation – making four trips a week to Ann Arbor sometimes – for post-concussion syndrome after he was struck in the head by a puck on Nov. 26, 2011.

After 419 days on the injured reserve, Eaves, who was cleared to play three months ago, was back in the Wings’ lineup for the second game of the season in Columbus. Since then, he’s played in 29 games as a fourth-line forward, collecting a goal and five assists.

On Thursday, the Detroit chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association announced that Eaves is their candidate for this season’s Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which is awarded annually to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication. The winner is selected by the PHWA and will be announced at the NHL Award Show, which will likely take place in July.

...

“Patty Eaves is one of these guys that when he’s scratched he leads the stretch, when he’s scratched he’s in the power play and penalty kill meetings, he dresses for warm-up, he does everything right,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He is an example – I used him this year with my son – if you can be as mentally tough as Patty Eaves and you keep digging in then you will be fine in life. … He makes people around him better because of his commitment to the team and his mental toughness, and he doesn’t let you get in the way of him having a great day. I think he’s impressive.”

And the Free Press's Helene St. James:

Eaves' memory of what happened that night is both hazy and heartwarming. He remembers being in the medical room at Joe Louis Arena. Someone was on the phone with his wife, explaining what happened. A nurse by training, she had lots of questions. Her parents happened to be at the game. They rushed to Eaves' home so that Katie, then five months pregnant with Della, could meet Eaves at hospital. The ride in the ambulance is vivid to Eaves. How the medic cradled Eaves' head to protect him.

"I was like, don't drop me," Eaves said. "I just knew I couldn't get hit again. But he knew every bump on the way to the hospital. If he knew a bump was coming, he would kind of hold me. I remember that. I wish I knew who it was. He was unbelievable."

A bigger hero emerged at home, where Eaves' wife took care of him and toddler Norah, all while her due date rapidly approached.

"I couldn't be a parent," Eaves said. "I couldn't be a father. I couldn't be a husband. I think that was probably the worst part. I was in a dark room for a while. That was the worst part of the whole thing. My wife, she held the ship together and ran everything, took care of me. She was pregnant the whole time, and then we had a 1-year-old, too. She should be nominated for this.

"I just got hit in the head with a puck. She deserves all the credit."

Update: MLive's Ansar Khan confirms...

The concussion symptoms lingered long after the jaw healed. Eaves started feeling better late in the summer but had a setback in September, when players started skating. He got real dizzy and the migraines resurfaced.

“So I basically had to shut it down for a bit, but I knew I’d come back,'' Eaves said. “Dr. (Jeffery) Kutcher at the University of Michigan and Dr. (Miles) Colwell were always very positive with me, (saying) we’re going to get through this. I trusted them and they took care of me.”

Eaves never feared his career was finished.

“I didn’t know how long it would take, I just knew that I would be back at some point,'' Eaves said. “I had a lot of rough days in there, but I knew that I would come back somehow. I’ve been pretty resilient my whole life.''

As does the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan:

The NHL lockout, which lasted almost four months, probably helped Eaves heading into this shortened season.

Eaves still suffered from dizziness when the Red Wings began skating in September, preparing for training camp. But the time off during the lockout gave Eaves more time to heal.

"Fortunately it was timed right and it worked out well and I'm back playing today," he said. "I feel great."

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Comments

OnlyWings's avatar

Good for Eaves! Consistently a hard worker and good role model! Good story for a Wings Venting day!

Sproul a big RH shot will be a welcome addition down the Road. 

Griffins will be stocked with talent for a few years.  Maybe they can start their own playoff streak, starting this year.  They may get Gus, Andersson, Lash, Brunner, Smith, DeKeyser, etc for their playoffs sooner than later.

Go all the way Griffins!!!

Posted by OnlyWings on 04/18/13 at 12:59 PM ET

moocat's avatar

“Patty Eaves is one of these guys that when he’s scratched he leads the stretch, when he’s scratched he’s in the power play and penalty kill meetings, he dresses for warm-up, he does everything right,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He is an example – I used him this year with my son – if you can be as mentally tough as Patty Eaves and you keep digging in then you will be fine in life. … He makes people around him better because of his commitment to the team and his mental toughness, and he doesn’t let you get in the way of him having a great day. I think he’s impressive.”

Of course this mean you scratch him all the time even though he’s as good if not better than Miller or Emmerton. Way to reward him for being such a great team guy. Babcock baffles me anymore.

Posted by moocat on 04/18/13 at 01:02 PM ET

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About The Malik Report

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.