Capitals' prospect nearing top Peake preparing for Washington call

January 21, 1993|By Doug Church | Doug Church,Contributing Writer

DETROIT -- Washington Capitals top prospect Pat Peake spent most of yesterday in his doctor's office, tending to his separated left shoulder and missed watching President Clinton's inauguration.

But despite the injury, which happened during a "Major A" junior all-star game practice in Montreal Monday, Peake continues to prepare for his arrival in Washington later this year.

Since the Capitals signed their 1991 first-round draft pick to a three-year contract last September, Peake has continued to develop his scoring skills. Sunday, the 19-year-old center from the Detroit suburb of Madison Heights scored his 50th goal and 98th point in just his 33rd game this season with the Detroit Jr. Red Wings of the Ontario Hockey League.

Peake, who also led Team USA in scoring at last month's World Junior Championships, began his year last summer training with the Capitals.

"No injuries are good, but this one may be a blessing in disguise," Peake said. "I've been busy, especially with travel, but it has made me a better player. You learn what challenges to expect in the NHL, when the spotlight will be on you quite a bit."

Peake is the definition of a franchise player for the 3-year-old Jr. Red Wings, known as the Detroit Ambassadors during their first two years. He has set numerous club scoring records that may stand for years. More satisfying, Peake says, is the team's debut in first place with a 23-14-6 record, just three years after he was the first choice in the 1990 OHL Draft.

"Everybody knew he was a very good player, but he was looked upon as just a gifted offensive player," Jr. Red Wings President and General Manager and former NHL goalie Jim Rutherford said. "During the first two years when we built the team from scratch, he led by example with great seasons. This year, he's a complete player. He's now our best defensive player, and I think the best all-around player in the league."

Peake, with the help of Jr. Wings line mates Bob Wren and Kevin Brown, has rediscovered winning after enduring 92 losses the past two seasons. "I wasn't used to losing that many games," Peake said. "But the entire experience here has made me mentally aware and tougher."

Peake's apprenticeship in Detroit has also been shaped by two prominent hockey personalities. He played alongside Philadelphia Flyers rookie center Eric Lindros with Detroit's renowned Compuware Tier II junior program in 1989 and is now under the tutelage of Jr. Wings' coach Tom Webster, who coached Wayne Gretzky and the Los Angeles Kings the past three seasons.

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