Cody Eakin was in a movie theatre in Hershey on Monday when he got the phone call that the Capitals were calling him up to the NHL.
It was only fitting that the 20-year-old center was watching “In Time,” as it’s now Eakin’s time to make his Caps and NHL debut.
“I’m pretty happy. It’s obviously exciting to get an opportunity to play my first game,” Eakin said. “I definitely didn’t expect a call, but I’m happy I got it.”
Eakin had three goals and five assists in 10 games with the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League, and Bruce Boudreau said all the reports he got from the minors were positive.
Hershey coach Mark French said that Eakin was surprised at first at the difference of the game from juniors but managed to fix that issue quickly.
“He made a steady improvement with every game and every weekend,” French said in a phone interview Tuesday. “The second weekend he made strides and showed the ability to adjust. … And the third weekend I thought he was our most consistent forward.”
Still, Eakin was surprised to get the call at this point. He was well-aware of the Caps’ 7-2-0 start to the season, and the team did have an extra forward, even with the injury to Jay Beagle.
French was, too.
“I guess I was a little surprised because of the numbers,” he said. “I’m not surprised that he got called up because I know how much he’s liked up there.”
Eakin said the message to him when he was sent down during preseason was clear, and he got it.
“The next however long kind of depends on me. I could be there in Hershey for a while or I could be there for a short time,” Eakin said. “I’ve just been obviously trying to work hard and get the systems right and get comfortable with the game.”
The timing of Eakin’s call-up was curious, even taking into account D.J. King being placed on waivers (he cleared). The Caps already had enough forwards to play, so Eakin’s placement into the lineup comes at the expense of veteran Jeff Halpern, who was a healthy scratch against the Ducks.
“I don’t like using the word messages. We’ve got 13 forwards right now and we wanted to take a look at Cody,” Boudreau said. “That’s the way it works out.”
Just “In Time” for Eakin.