When Devils defenseman Eric Gelinas was just a little guy, he would follow his much older brother to the pond behind their Ottawa home and beg his way into outdoor hockey games.

Karl Gelinas, then 14, gave in by ordering Eric, 5 at the time, to play goal.

Eric wanted to skate around and work on a shot that years later would grow into something special, but then he simply stood in front of net with no goalie pads, no mask and a regular stick.

The older kids never fired hard shots his way, but this wasn't much fun to him.

"They were always looking for a goalie and always said, 'You're going to be the goalie,'" Gelinas recalled. "I always was part of the crew, always hanging with them even though I was 5. I wanted to play, but I didn't want to be the goalie. I didn't have goalie gear. I just wore soccer pads."

This went on for about three years, ones that Eric also showed early signs of having the same kind of sports talent that ran in the family, baseball talent.

His dad Marc, now 57, was a 6-foot-7 minor-league pitcher, and Karl, now 30, was and still is a 6-foot-4 minor-league pitcher.

During much of his youth, Eric was a switch-hitting catcher.

"I played catcher because that's where all the action was when I was little," he said. "There was nothing going on in the outfield or infield. Nobody could really hit the ball."

Gelinas says he was pretty good, but he found baseball boring compared to hockey, which became a lot more fun once his family moved to the Montreal suburb of Saint-Jean-sur-Richileau when he was 8. By then, his brother got to be too old for the pond hockey games and Eric no longer was forced to play goalie.

Eric fast developed into a dynamite forward with good size who idolized big, rough and tough NHL blueliner Chris Pronger, and eventually an opportunity to make a team of older players as a defenseman led a position change that stuck.