And one such spot will be for the sixth defenseman position, of which newcomer Mike Commodore will be in a battle to secure.
“It’s not going to be easy, and I realize that,” Commodore said, following the Red Wings informal skate Tuesday morning at Joe Louis Arena. “There are some guys here that want to play. But I do too.”
At 6-foot-4 and 233-pounds, Commodore is accustomed to playing a physical, clear-the-cease style, which can definitely be an advantage to the Wings. But with nine defensemen – all with pro contracts – heading to camp, Commodore will likely find himself competing for a spot on the team’s third pairing along with Jakub Kindl
and Brendan Smith
Since the Wings signed Commodore to a one-year contract in July, the Alberta native has been working hard at getting prepared for his comeback, of sorts. While the last two seasons were disappointing, Commodore said, he’d still like to “prove that I have something left in the tank.”
Detroit is the sixth stop in Commodore’s NHL career, and while the Wings can offer a fresh start, he’d especially like to forget about last season in Columbus, where he had two goals, four assists and a minus-8 in 20 games.
“It was tough,” Commodore said. “I had a little bit of tough luck with breaking my thumb at the beginning of the year in a fight. I didn’t want to miss a beat when I came back, and in my opinion, I played very well when I came back. My only stat that didn’t look good was being minus-8 in 20 games. But you can take a look at those games and count the plus-minuses up; the guys up in the press box made some mistakes. I was probably a minus-2, which was about even with the team.
“Last year wasn’t a very good year. To be honest, it was none of my doings. But that happens all of the time when there are changes. For whatever reason it was my year last year and it’s time to move on.”
Besides being big and physical, Commodore is also a right-handed shot, which will help balance the Wings’ blue line, which, with the exception of newcomer Ian White
, features all left-handed shooters.
“I think I know my role here, I mean, I have to earn a spot on this team,” Commodore said. “I have to work my way up the ladder again, and it’s not something that is new for me. I probably had to do that for the first seven years of my career, but I want to earn what I get here. I want to earn my ice-time.
“I’m not a prospect anymore. But it’s a big year after what happened to me last year and injuries two years ago where I battled through the whole year and played a whole five games healthy. This is a big year for me if I don’t start putting something together I could be looking at a change of scenery permanently.”
Commodore also spoke Tuesday about the online movement this summer, which tried to get him to wear No. 64 with the Wings as homage to the old bulky desktop computer from the early 1980s. Commodore thought about doing it, but reconsidered.
“That actually stressed me out a little bit,” said Commodore, who has worn No. 64 at the Jerry Bruckheimer Bad Boys Hockey Tournament in Law Vegas. “I handled that totally in the wrong way. I thought that I was doing the right thing. There’s been some interest before in the (No.) 64, and I understand that. My Twitter feed was blowing up, but to be honest, I was tired of reading about it. I didn’t comment and it just kept coming and coming.
“Blogs started jumping on it. Pledges started. It just got out of control. It’s a pretty cool idea, and it’s something that I really did entertain. But at the end of the day, I wasn’t comfortable coming into a city like Detroit with an organization like this and going with a number like that. There are some cool parts to it, but this isn’t the year that I want to come in looking like a punch line.”
Commodore will also likely cool with social media, at least during the upcoming season.
“I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it. I like having it. But it’s something that I don’t want to be a distraction either,” said Commodore, referring to his Twitter account – @commie22
. “I’m definitely not going to use it as much during the season as I do in the summer. … I just want to be careful with it.
“I will admit that some stuff can be addicting. I try to watch it, and by no means am I on there all of the time. When I’m sitting in a hotel since Aug. 1 I have a lot of extra time on my hands, so I check it quite a bit then.
“It’s interesting. There are a lot of really, really good thing that can come out of (Twitter). And there’s a lot of really bad things that can come out of it, too. There are some great people on there, but there are some real meatheads, too.”
Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill