Career limiting decision?

ADAM WAZNY -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 12:47 PM ET

There was a small AHL transaction which drew the ire of some people in Milwaukee last month, specifically within the Admirals organization. Remember when the NHL season was officially cancelled Feb. 16?

Well, locked-out Nashville Predators defenceman Mark Eaton needed to find another job, so he signed to play with the Grand Rapids Griffins for the rest of the season.

It seemed like no big deal.

"I definitely needed to do something competitively, and Grand Rapids was a very good fit," Eaton said when the Manitoba Moose travelled through Michigan on their six-game road trip. "My wife had just had a baby. I didn't want to take a full year off and maybe come back (next training camp) not having played.

"Europe wasn't an option, so I had to do something here."

One problem, though.

Eaton (who was slated to make $1 million with the Preds this season, according to the NHLPA website) is still property of the Nashville organization.

Officials around the Griffins did not want to comment on the record, but a few people with the club did suggest that the NHLPA had asked those players thinking about playing in the AHL to sign with any team other than the affiliated club.

FOLLOWED SUIT

If the NHLPA edict was true, not everyone has followed suit.

The Albany River Rats added New Jersey Devils forward Brian Gionta last week, and the Hartford Wolf Pack added New York Rangers defenceman Joel Bouchard yesterday.

It would, however, explain why Eaton signed with the Detroit Red Wings organization and didn't want to comment on Nashville when asked about it last week.

Some in the Nashville organization had plenty to say, however.

Predators GM David Poile told The Tennessean, "It's very disappointing to both myself and the Nashville Predators that Mark Eaton never called anyone in the organization to let us know where he was going or why.

"Will this affect our relationship with Mark Eaton going forward? You're (darn) right it will."

When Admirals head coach Claude Noel was asked about it, he had no problem voicing his opinion on Eaton, who spent four years with Milwaukee and Nashville since coming over from Philadelphia in 2001.

"(The Nashville organization) kind of got his career going in the NHL," Noel said, knowing his club could have benefited having a player like Eaton. "He plays a couple years there and gets himself playing at a high plateau, and in the year of the lockout, he doesn't even make a call to the parent club and tell them 'Look, this is what I'm planning to do.'

"It's just disrespectful, and that's as simple as it gets."


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