Share This Page

For Pens' new defenseman Eaton, no timeframe to play

| Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, 1:24 p.m.
With Paul Martin out of Saturday's lineup, the Penguins opted to use Mark Eaton -- who hadn't played an NHL game since April 3, 2012 -- in his place. File photo

SUNRISE, Fla. — Mark Eaton's present is about doing the work. He cannot control anything else.

Eaton, who signed a one-year contract with the Penguins on Monday, did not play against the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center on Tuesday night. He may not dress for the two remaining games on this road trip, either.

“I don't think there's a rush at this point to get Mark into a game or even a schedule at this point,” coach Dan Bylsma said. “We've liked seeing him in practice … but there's not a plan right now for when he's going to get back into playing.”

General manager Ray Shero often has said he believes every organization needs no fewer than 10 defensemen who can play at the NHL level, at least for a stretch of games.

Eaton is one of eight defensemen on the active roster.

The Penguins began the season with that many — and because Eaton signed an NHL contract, rookie Simon Despres stands as the only active defenseman who would not need to clear waivers if assigned to the AHL.

Center Evgeni Malkin (concussion) is on the injured-reserve list, retroactive to Saturday. The Penguins are not required to make a roster move to carry eight defensemen.

However, that will not always be the case.

Malkin's return would give the Penguins 14 forwards, and all but rookie left winger Beau Bennett would require waivers clearance.

The challenge of carrying eight defensemen is mostly felt on game days, Bylsma said.

“Having two guys in and out of the lineup is not ideal for the players,” he said. “It's not going to necessarily be a rotation of three or four or five guys being in an out of the lineup, just based on the simple rotation.”

Eaton, without an NHL employer when the 119-day lockout ended in January, is appreciative of his chance collect a paycheck from the Penguins, his team from 2006-10.

“It was my goal at the beginning,” he said, referring to the tryout contract he previously signed and AHL games he played with affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. “If you asked me a month ago, I'd say this definitely happened sooner than I thought.

“I'm going to work hard and try to crack the top six. You don't come here and be happy just watching games. Right now it's just about the work. I'll control what I can control.”

Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rrossi@tribweb.com or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.

Related Content
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.