Monday, September 12, 2011

Capitals' Eakin Making Strides

 photo by Bridget Samuels/bridgetds

At the conclusion of this summer's Capitals development camp, Cody Eakin wasn't sugarcoating how he felt about his performance at the week-long camp. "I’m not in the best shape; there’s no excuse for it," Eakin said.

Though he did have a bit of an excuse: his season had just finished five weeks prior. While other players were in the gym doing their offseason training, Eakin was still on the ice, competing for a Memorial Cup.

Even though Eakin didn't stand out as much as he had in previous development camps, Coach Bruce Boudreau stood behind the rookie. "I’m not at all disappointed in Cody," Boudreau said. "Sometimes we forget he just finished playing five weeks ago. I thought he competed hard, but I think he’ll be better in September."

Boudreau explained how Eakin could look so out of shape after finishing up his last year of junior hockey. "Hockey is such a draining sport to keep going at the same level that you’ve been at, for 12 months is difficult," he said. "I'm not making an excuse for [Eakin], because he didn’t have a bad camp at all, but at the same time, maybe the expectations from everybody else around him are so great that I think he’s going to come and tear it up."

"Tear it up" he didn't, but coming into this week's rookie camp, Eakin was more prepared to compete for a roster spot. As Boudreau said Monday, "His goal, being a graduate of junior hockey, was not the [development] camp, his goal was this camp." 

After development camp, Eakin was happy to get into a more consistent offseason routine, spending five days a week in the gym, instead of just resting as he had in the weeks between the Memorial Cup and development camp. He arrived a few days early and joined informal skates with some of the team's veterans ahead of official camp.

Sunday, Eakin spoke about how his own disappointment in development camp propelled his offseason training routine. "I think development camp scared me the most, obviously not having a lot of time before that and coming in not in the best shape," Eakin said. "The whole summer, that was in the back of my head giving me the extra motivation."

His improved conditioning and focus has been immediately noticeable at rookie camp.  "He's in great shape. You can tell he's determined. He's here to fight for a job, and he's putting his best foot forward," Coach Boudreau said. "You can see a little bit more determination on his face."

While Eakin looks good so far in practices, Boudreau knows that it will probably take a few preseason games to tell if he's ready for the NHL.

"He's going to be a good one," Boudreau said. "It's just a matter of is it going to take a little time, or is it now?"

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