“Patience is the key word,” said Commodore, a 31-year old free-agent addition by the Detroit Red Wings who’s recovering from a preseason knee sprain. “It’s not a bad situation for me. I just need to stay patient and make sure I’m ready when the opportunity comes.”
That’s because the situation in Detroit has changed since the time Commodore left a game at the United Center in the second period against the Chicago Blackhawks. At the time, it looked like he had the inside track over 24-year-old Jakub Kindl for the role of sixth defenseman.
Since Commodore’s been out, Kindl has thrived while teamed with 27-year old Jonathan Ericsson as the Wings’ third D-pairing. Detroit now appears to have one of the deepest defense corps in the League from top to bottom despite Brian Rafalski’s retirement and not bringing in a high-priced free agent.
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“Mike knows it's pro hockey,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said after Thursday’s practice at Joe Louis Arena. “You’ve got to come back, and then you’ve got to win yourself a job -- that’s just the way it is. When people are playing good, the opportunities aren’t as good. When people aren’t playing good, then the opportunities are better. I don’t think anyone wishes their teammates don’t play well. You just get yourself prepared (in case an opportunity arises).”
Commodore said he isn’t going to sulk about it, either.
“I think I’m getting more patient as I get older, to be honest,” he told NHL.com after Thursday’s practice. “A few years ago, I probably wouldn’t have been very patient with this thing at all. But you have to realize the situation you’re in (with the Red Wings). This is my first year here. I’m the new guy and I’m not going to come in here barking and wanting things. That’s not how it works. It’s easier for me to be patient here, too.”
That’s good, because Kindl doesn’t look like he’s going to let up anytime soon.
In fact, he’s already got a plus-6 rating and hasn’t been on the ice for a goal against in the Wings’ first four games. Kindl and Ericsson also spent time against the top line of the Minnesota Wild in Detroit’s last game, which ended in a 3-2 overtime win on the road Saturday night.
Babcock is impressed, which means Commodore most likely will be a healthy scratch when he returns to the active roster.
“I don’t wish any ill will upon any of my teammates,” Commodore told NHL.com. “I’m glad (Kindl’s) playing well and everybody else is playing well, too. I want to be around a winning feeling and a winning team. It’s fun for me to watch these guys, too. I want the Red Wings to win games.”
He also wants to prove he still belongs in the League.
Commodore came to Detroit as a free agent looking to revitalize his career after the Columbus Blue Jackets sent him to Springfield of the American Hockey League last season. He played just 20 games with the Jackets, scoring twice and posting a minus-8 rating.