Originally written October 24, 2011 on Fox Sports Detroit:
DETROIT -- There was no sign of goaltender Jimmy Howard at Red Wings practice Monday at Joe Louis Arena, but there was a perfectly good reason for that. Howard and his wife, Rachel, welcomed their first child Sunday, a boy named James Russell Howard IV. "Congratulations to Howie and Rachel -- James Russell the fourth," coach Mike Babcock said. "It's a pretty good handle. Kind of like my name, we've got Mikes in my family, too, can't think of any other names. They must be the same." Babcock and his wife, Maureen, have three children but he didn't really offer Howard any advice on being a dad. "What I said to him is kids are a gift from God," Babcock said. "It's the best thing that'll ever happen to you. It's the one thing they give you, they give you kids without any training, without you knowing what you're doing or what you're getting into. But it's a gift and now you've got an obligation to do a great job so it'll be fun for him." Patrick Eaves became a first-time father in the summer of 2010. He, too, didn't offer advice. "He'll figure it out as he goes," Eaves said. "I'm just happy for those two. They got another James in this world, so I think it's great. But no advice, just support." Captain Nick Lidstrom has four boys in his house so he's familiar with the drill. He kept his advice short and to the point: "Get ready for some sleepless nights." Danny Cleary, who has two young daughters, thinks Howard will do just fine as a father. "He'll be good," Cleary said. "He's actually one of the reasonable goalies I've played with. I'm pretty happy for him, good, healthy baby. He's happy to keep the lineage going with James Howard IV." MacDonald back Because Howard is spending a couple of days with his new baby boy, Ty Conklin will start again Tuesday night in Columbus. Joey MacDonald was called up from Grand Rapids and he was flying in Monday and planned to meet the team in Columbus. It's probably a good thing for Conklin to be able to play again right away after Saturday's 7-1 loss to the undefeated Washington Capitals. "It's a great opportunity for him," Babcock said. "Obviously he's got to be better. He knows that, we know that. He's always been good for us, he had a shutout the game before. "The tough thing is if you're the starter and things are going like that, the coach pulls you, puts the other guy in. When you're the guy giving the guy the day off, guess what happens? He just leaves you there." Watch out for the Blue Jackets Although the Wings already beat the Blue Jackets at Joe Louis Arena Friday night, they know they can't take the 0-7-1 team lightly. "They're a desperate team," Lidstrom said. "They want to get that first win out of the way, especially at home, so we have to be ready. I think you're going to see them trying to put a good forecheck on us and especially at home, be aggressive at home, come out with everything they've got." Babcock expects the Wings to be at their best after getting embarrassed Saturday in Washington. "We got humbled so bad I would say we'd better be ready to go," Babcock said. "That's what I would think. When things go like they did the other night, I think you want to put it behind you as fast as you can. We should be a pretty desperate team tomorrow, too, I would think." Commodore getting closer Defenseman Mike Commodore has missed the first six games of the season with a knee injury but he's getting closer. Commodore has practiced with the team, including Monday, and is feeling encouraged about his progress. "I'm still on the mend, unfortunately, but it is getting better," Commodore said. "It's a lot better the last two, three days of skating than it was two or three days prior to that. I think I'm close. "There isn't too much pain -- a couple times but that's not a big deal. I've skated myself after every practice now for probably about a week, which is zero fun, out there by yourself, but just trying to get back up to speed and get back to where I was before I got hurt." Commodore said he hoped to be available for this weekend's games, Friday at home against San Jose or Saturday in Minnesota. Possible fourth line Babcock said he would make his final decision Tuesday but on Monday, his fourth line was Eaves, Drew Miller and Tomas Holmstrom.

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