DETROIT – Detroit Red Wings forward Cory Emmerton had quite the whirlwind last 36 hours.
Emmerton went from being placed on waivers to clearing them. He next was being sent to the minors to where he’s now back centering the Wings’ fourth line for Wednesday’s season opener at Joe Louis Arena.
“Probably the most eventful, uneventful 36 hours ever,” Emmerton said after practice Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena. “To end up here, I mean, seemed like a lot was going on, but nothing really was, so it was obviously pretty stressful, but I think I’ve become a stronger person, player for just going through something like that. You really don’t wish that upon anyone, but it was a little adversity and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Emmerton, 25, was brought back on the team after it was decided to place Patrick Eaves on long-term injured reserve.
“There wasn’t any cap space, so they had to figure out a way to either work with what they had or find a way to clear up some more money,” Emmerton said. “Originally, I didn’t know if (Eaves) was going to go on it, so you’re going to have to go to Grand Rapids. So I was just kind of hanging out and then I got a call a few hours later saying that they had switched and put Patty on (LTIR) and they told me to stick around.”
Wings coach Mike Babcock said Emmerton will center Drew Miller and Mikael Samuelsson on the fourth line Wednesday.
“He’s another guy that has to grab his piece if you don’t want to play in the minors,” Babcock said. “You have to grab your piece.”
The Wings also sent Gustav Nyquist to Grand Rapids to begin the season, as well as placing Jordin Tootoo and Jonas Gustavsson on short-term injured reserve to help free up roster spots.
“You know, everyone knows what’s going on here,” Emmerton said. “There’s too many players, no cap space, so something’s got to give. Maybe it was a little bit surprising just for the fact that we’re already down a centerman, but other than that they’re trying to figure out what to do here. I couldn’t have told you either way whether I expected it or not.”
With the season-long injury to Darren Helm last year, Emmerton centered the Wings’ fourth line. However, with the emergence of Joakim Andersson and Helm’s possible return to the lineup it made Emmerton expendable.
“They made it pretty clear to me that they wanted me to clear and to stay here and be a part of this,” Emmerton said. “So I was happy in a way to get a chance to stay here. But I was kind of torn in between because you’re on waivers and you can end up anywhere and you don’t know the situation, so it could have been good or bad. But I’m happy to be here.
Emmerton, who’s salary cap hit is $533,333, is also feeling pressure from Riley Sheahan and Luke Glendening in the minors.
“He’s a good penalty kill, he skates good and he’s getting better,” Babcock said. “He’s still in the growth point of this career. He’s going to be better this year because he’s a lot stronger than he was last year.”
Emmerton, who was taken 41st overall in the 2006 draft, has 12 goals and seven assists in 121 games in parts of three seasons with the Wings.
“I just want to play hockey,” Emmerton said. “That’s the only mindset that I have. I’ve done everything that I could to improve myself, to become a better player, more useful, and now’s time to show it. I have a chance to play tomorrow and just have to play well. The rest of it will take care of itself as long as you can do what you can do personally. Stuff has a way of figuring itself out and that’s all you can hope for.”