DETROIT, Mich. -- A sad, knowing look crossed the faces of Danny Cleary and Brad Stuart as they spoke about injured teammate Patrick Eaves after Monday's practice.
Eaves suffered a fractured jaw when Nashville rookie defenseman Roman Josi's shot struck him on his right ear in Saturday's game.
The Wings said Eaves was scheduled for surgery Monday night. Doctors were to decide once they started whether Eaves would have to have his jaw completely wired shut or if he might be able to have the elastic closures that allow for a little movement.
Cleary took a puck to his jaw on Feb. 9, 2008, when then-teammate Mikael Samuelsson's shot hit him, causing a non-displaced fracture.
"As bad as it looks, the pain comes and goes very fast. I don't know if that makes any sense to you," Cleary said. "The worst part for me was being able to put my tongue through the separated teeth -- my jaw was pushed in and the other part was out.
"It just felt really weird. Patty, his is a little bit higher than mine but the bottom line is he's going to have his teeth wired shut. It's going to be a hard time. You can barely even speak. It's terrible."
Stuart had his jaw broken by the elbow of Calgary's Tom Kostopoulos last January on a blindside hit.
"The first two weeks are pretty tough because it hurts, you can't open your mouth and you're not used to those kind of things," Stuart said. "Finding stuff that you can eat is the toughest part. But you kind of start getting used to it after a while. You'll adapt. It's just the first 10-14 days is tough."
Both were asked if they had any words of wisdom for their wounded comrade.
"I don't have any because he's going to be miserable," Cleary said. "He's got a good wife with him so she's going to need some patience. That's one thing I had was I had a good, patient wife who kept feeding me."
Stuart did find one small thing that made him feel a little bit better.
"Don't be afraid to go through the drive-thru and get yourself an extra-large milkshake 'cause you're going to need the calories," Stuart said. "That's what I did. Food in a blender does not taste very good. I went to, I think it was Jack-in-the-Box and I used to get their extra-large milkshake. That was kind of fun, actually."
Let's hope that Eaves was able to enjoy a very hearty Thanksgiving meal because Christmas dinner won't be nearly as pleasurable for him.
"There's no eating. There's no eating anything," Cleary said. "It's all liquid and purified liquid because if anything has chunks in it, it'll get stuck in these metal things in your teeth and getting those out, it's a pain."
Stuart managed to keep his weight loss to a minimum, only dropping seven pounds. Cleary said he couldn't remember exactly how much, but it was around 15 pounds.
Even those teammates who have never had an injury like that are feeling bad for him. Goaltender Jimmy Howard sees every game what the guys are willing to do to block shots.
"The way guys can shoot pucks nowadays, it's extremely dangerous 'cause guys can absolutely fire it," Howard said. "It's very unfortunate. I really feel for Patrick and what he has to go through now."
With Eaves set to miss six to eight weeks after his surgery, that will open up a roster spot.
"I don't know what I'm going to do yet," coach Mike Babcock said. "I talked to Kenny (general manager Ken Holland) this morning, he was in Grand Rapids last night so we talked about their players.
"We've got (Fabian) Brunnstrom here and (Cory) Emmerton, who didn't play the other night, so we have opportunity that way but we'll take a look at what's going on and make a decision."
There are a couple of other options with the Grand Rapids Griffins. Chris Conner, a Westland, Mich. native, played 60 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins last season, scoring seven goals and nine assists. Currently, Conner leads the Griffins with seven goals and 16 assists in 19 games.
Gustav Nyquist, the former Hobey Baker finalist who made his NHL Debut with the Red Wings Nov. 1 against the Minnesota Wild, has six goals and 14 assists in 19 games.
Mursak on the mend
While Eaves is just beginning the healing process, Jan Mursak is starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Mursak fractured his ankle Sept. 25 in a preseason game against the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Wings young forward got out of his walking boot a couple of weeks ago and has just begun skating. He is still on track to return right around Christmas.
"We don't want to rush things," Mursak said. "The ankle, there's no pain right now but it's still kind of stiff. I don't have the same flexibility I had. We'll see how the ankle reacts."
In addition to Mursak spending hours doing strengthening exercises for the ankle, trainers also make sure to stretch it and move it around to help regain flexibility.
"I feel better and better every day," Mursak said. "We'll see how the ankle reacts in those tight turns and stuff, the different positions of the ankle. I think this week we'll start to skate harder and try all the stuff."
Mursak can't wait until he can finally play again.
"It was a long time," Mursak said. "It's my first bigger injury and it was just not at the right moment but these things happen, there's nothing I can do about it. Now I just hope I'll be back soon and make the team, make the regular lineup and see how it goes then."
No baby yet
Brunnstrom, whose wife is expecting their first child, a boy, any day now, had still not gone into labor as of Monday after practice.
The Wings recalled Brunnstrom from Grand Rapids Monday.