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Notebook: Coleman returns to practice as a new dad

After missing Thursday's game to due to the birth of his daughter, Blake Coleman was on the ice for Friday's practice session in Brandon

by Bryan Burns @TBLightning /

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Blake Coleman has seen his life drastically change over the last couple weeks.

Coleman was traded to the Lightning February 16 from New Jersey, the team that drafted him in the third round of the 2011 draft and the only NHL team he had ever played for.

Coleman and his wife had to find a place to live in Tampa while Coleman joined the Lightning during their trip out west through Denver, Las Vegas and Phoenix.

And then Thursday, about 30 minutes before the puck dropped between the Bolts and the Blackhawks at AMALIE Arena, Coleman's life took another giant turn, he and his wife welcoming their first child, a baby girl, to the world.

Charlie Coleman was born around 6:30 p.m. Thursday, weighing seven pounds and two ounces. After delivering the baby, the doctor jokingly asked the new father, "It's 6:30, can you make puck drop?"

Video: Coleman on birth of his daughter

Coleman rejoined the Lightning for practice Friday at the TGH Ice Plex. He was tired - he only got about five hours of sleep combined over the previous two days - but ecstatic too.

"I'm happy baby and mom are in good health," he said. "She's beautiful. There's really no experience like it."

Coleman said he and his wife checked into the hospital around 4 p.m. Wednesday. His wife endured 26-plus hours of labor.
"My wife is a trooper," he said. "Once things got moving, it went pretty quick. Just happy everyone's happy and healthy and already missing her daddy."

Coleman said he always thought he wanted to have a baby boy first. That is, until Charlie was born.

"I think I was sorely wrong," he said. "There's nothing like it. She immediately becomes the most important thing in your world, and it was an emotional day for me, my wife and my family. I'm already missing her. I can't wait to see her."

Coleman said Lightning management and coaching staff told him to take as much time as he needed, but he wanted to get back to the team as soon as possible, especially having only been a part of his new team for 13 days.

"This group's so great," he said. "They welcomed me back, and everyone's real excited. I heard from everybody after the (Chicago) game. It's nice being surrounded by good people when you go through things like this. Coming back to see the guys was something I wanted to do today. Management and coach Coop gave me a little bit of leeway with what I wanted to do, but obviously I'm also here to win games and compete. It's good to get back here and get a sweat and hopefully get the ship going the right way tomorrow."

Another reason to return to the rink? There's less crying in the Lightning locker room.

"She started crying at the end. I was ready for a breather," he joked.

RETURNING THE POWER TO THE POWER PLAY: The Lightning spent the first half of their practice session Friday working on the power play, a much-needed reset for a unit mired in a 6-for-66 slump since the start of 2020, a 9.1 percent success rate that rates last in the NHL over that stretch.

The Lightning were missing two key components of their power play Friday. Steven Stamkos was not at practice as he remains out with a lingering injury. Victor Hedman also did not participate as he was given a body-maintenance day.

Still, it was important for the unit to try to figure out why it was struggling after starting as one of the League's best at 29.7 percent and ranked second from the beginning of the season to the end of December.

"It's no secret that we've been a little dry here of late, but we haven't had a lot of practice time either," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. "Without Stamkos in there right now, we tried a few different looks, things we might have done in the past, may have been a couple years ago, just getting guys in spots, getting them feeling the puck a little bit. Definitely today was a lot of focus on special teams."

Yanni Gourde said a lot of the issues on the power play - and to some extent the penalty kill in recent times - are mental.

"There's always overthinking," he said. "Mental part of the game is big. It's huge. At the same time, we know we're a good group of guys. We know the system works on the PK. We know what works on the power play. I think it's just getting back to it and staying positive. It's going to work out. We're going to find a way to score goals and we're going to find a way to kill penalties."

Video: Cooper on Bolts looking to snap streak

INJURY UPDATES: Stamkos was not at practice Friday after sitting out the loss to Chicago on Thursday. Cooper said they hope to know more about his status Saturday or Sunday at the latest.

"A lot of it's how's Stammer feeling, stuff like that," Cooper said. "We've got doctors and people checking him out, and so we're just being extremely thorough before we see what kind of rehab goes down."

Maroon returned to practice after missing the Chicago game with a lower-body injury. Cooper said he expects Maroon back for Saturday's game versus Calgary.

Hedman, too, is not expected to miss any time after taking a maintenance day Friday. And Coleman's return to the rink Friday means he should be good to go for Saturday's contest.

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