DETROIT – There are few things that will melt a father’s heart like the smile of his little girl.
Red Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson is no exception.
“I didn’t know I could like her that much and just the feelings developed so fast for something, that’s incredible, it’s a good feeling,” the new father said of his five-week old daughter.
Liv Ericsson came into the world on Oct. 21 at 7 pounds, 4 ounces and 20 inches.
It was a busy but exciting few days for Ericsson, who flew back with the team that Sunday from a road game in Phoenix, making it home just in time to take his fiancé Evelina to the hospital.
“That was hectic and I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it before she actually had to go,” Ericsson explained “I was on the phone with her the whole time driving home, probably breaking the speed limit a little bit. She was already packed to go when I got home and I just took her right away to the hospital.”
It was love at first sight when he finally held Liv in his arms for the very first time.
“I was so curious if it was going to be a boy or a girl and then how that person was going to look like,” Ericsson said. “So that was like, shocking to see what she actually looked like and what she’s been kind of turning into and all that. It’s an amazing feeling and emotional to actually see her and hold her for the first time.”
And he couldn’t have been happier to have a little girl.
“I was actually hoping for that but I didn’t tell many people that,” the defenseman said.
The new parents had a plentiful list of names for their first child, but all roads led back to Liv.
The name holds a special meaning for Ericsson, who was teammates with fellow Swede Stefan Liv in Grand Rapids for one season. Liv was a goaltender drafted by the Red Wings two years before Ericsson, and helped Sweden win gold medals in the Olympics and World Championships in 2006.
Two years ago, Liv died in a tragic accident when a plane carrying his KHL team crashed in Russia on Sept. 7, 2011.
Ericsson said Anna Liv was honored he wanted to name his daughter after her late husband. Even though they only played together for one season, it’s difficult for Ericsson to see the sport without his friend and is glad Stefan’s memory can live on through his daughter’s eyes.
“Just the meaning it gets from him and the family has just made it special for us,” Ericsson said. “We talked about names in the beginning, but from the three months before the birth we knew that was going to be that name. It just felt so right for us and then if Anna and the family approved, of course we wanted to ask them before we named her, but she was really happy about it.”
Now five-weeks old, Ericsson is enjoying every minute he spends with his daughter, but can’t help looking forward to the time when they can walk hand in hand.
“I’m looking forward to shape the person she’s going to be,” Ericsson said. “To see her grow up, and I’m looking forward to when I can interact with her more and talk to her and do stuff with her. I’m just seeing her being a 3- or 4-year-old and I’m holding hands with her and doing stuff together.”
For now, the new child is providing her parents with plenty of entertainment.
“She’s just making all these noises all the time,” Ericsson said. “I don’t know where she gets all of those noises from, I don’t know what she’s doing but that’s funny to hear. We just start laughing at the noises she’s making or the faces she’s making.”
And he has one more reason to be thankful to have a baby girl.
“I’m happy that she isn’t a boy because she would’ve peed on me probably like five times I think,” Ericsson said laughing. “I think it was three times in a day when I was about to change her diaper and she actually peed. If that would’ve been a boy that would’ve been all over me I guess. I’m like, ‘Oh, thank God that wasn’t a boy that time.’ ”
It’s been a busy month for the new family, as they celebrated their first Halloween and are preparing to enjoy their first Thanksgiving together. Ericsson and Evelina are also planning their wedding, and will be married when they return to Sweden next summer.
Young Liv hasn’t visited The Joe yet, but it’s only a matter of time before Ericsson proudly totes his daughter around the rink.
“Probably soon I think, it’s about that time,” he said. “We talked about that, we wanted to keep her at home for at least four weeks, so she might be coming down soon.”
Liv will see Joe Louis for the first time from Ericsson’s arms, but before long she’ll be walking down its hallways hand in hand with her father, just like he’s always imagined.