DETROIT -- Mike Commodore has patiently waited his turn, and now he'll get to pull on the winged wheel sweater of the Detroit Red Wings for the first time in a regular-season game.
Commodore, who sprained his knee in the preseason and lost a potential starting spot in the process, will play his first game for the Wings on Thursday night against the Calgary Flames. He'll enter the lineup on Detroit's third defense pairing with Jonathan Ericsson and replace Jakub Kindl.
After rehabbing his knee, Commodore has practiced hard and watched games as healthy scratch. Now he'll get a chance to show what he can bring to this team with a 6-foot-4, 227-pound frame and the penchant for hard-hitting defense on the blue line.
"For me, it starts tonight and I just want to have a good effort tonight," Commodore said. "I haven't played in a while. Being physical is part of my game, but I just have to make sure I don't get caught out of position trying to run around. I just want to keep it simple and be physical when I need to be, when the opportunity is there."
The Wings' defensive system is also new to Commodore this season, but he feels like he has a good grasp of what they do after logging a lot of practice time in training camp and returning to the ice after the knee injury.
"I've got a lot on my plate tonight, to be honest with you," Commodore said. "Without those practices I'd have been lost. I think with the time I've had … I wasn't panicking either with my situation of not playing and being scratched for a few games. Obviously I'd like to play, but at the same time the practices were good for me and I didn't mind that."
Detroit coach Mike Babcock is looking forward to seeing what Commodore can add to his team. He also understands Commodore's excitement at getting his first game with the Wings.
"He should be eager, he's been skating enough," Babcock said. "It's like with any pro sport. Everybody wants to play more, everybody wants to score more, everybody wants to win more. You've got to earn the right to do all those things, so here's an opportunity for him today and what he does with it we're going to watch. We're about winning games, so the best guys are playing."