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Commodore to make Wings' debut

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT – Mike Commodore will officially begin his 11th NHL season when he makes his Red Wings’ debut against one of his former teams, the Calgary Flames, tonight at Joe Louis Arena.

“I actually didn't think I was playing today,” Commodore said. “I started a bike ride, then found out I was playing this morning. It's good. I'm looking forward to it. It's been a long time. The injury took a little while. But it's nice to be back. Try to get into a routine a little bit and contribute.”

Commodore will play beside defenseman Jonathan Ericsson on the Wings’ third pairing. If nothing else, the two 6-foot-4 defensemen will make an intimidating tandem.

“It's first game of year, new team,” Commodore said. “I'll be a little nervous, I'm sure. For me, I'm going to try to keep it simple, be strong defensively and move the puck. I'm not going to try to do too much. That's when I get into trouble. I just want to keep it simple, have a strong game and have fun.”

Commodore hasn’t played since he suffered a Grade 1 MCL sprain during an exhibition game in Chicago. His recovery was long and tedious, but he’s been rehabilitating the knee and skating in practices for the last few weeks.

To make room for Commodore in the lineup, Jakub Kindl will sit out. Kindl has two assists and is tied for the team-lead with a +3 rating through 10 games.

“He’s been skating enough,” said Wings coach Mike Babcock, of Commodore. “It’s like anything, it’s pro sport, everyone wants to play more, everyone wants to score more, everyone wants to win more. You have to earn the right to do all of those things though. So here’s an opportunity for him today, and what he does is up to him. And we’re going to watch … We’re about winning games, so the best guys are playing.”

The Wings signed Commodore to a one-year free agent contract in July with the expectation that he would compete for a spot on the team’s third defensive pairing.

Unfortunately, the knee injury marks the second straight derailment to the start of the season for Commodore, who was injured for much of last year in Columbus.

“It's been kind a rough run for me the last year and a half to two years haven't gone very well,” he said. “So it's a big opportunity for me. This is as good place or better than any other to do it. For me it starts tonight and I'd just like to have a good effort.

“I've been working hard, practicing, haven't played in a while. Obviously, being physical is a part of my game. I just got to make sure I don't get caught out of position trying to run around. I just want to keep it simple. I don't want to be forcing anything.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill
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