Lightning’s Blake Coleman balances trade with becoming a new father

The forward’s wife is due to give birth to the couple’s first child in two weeks.
New Jersey Devils center Blake Coleman (20) during warmups before a recent hockey game against the Dallas Stars in Newark, N.J.
New Jersey Devils center Blake Coleman (20) during warmups before a recent hockey game against the Dallas Stars in Newark, N.J. [ NOAH K. MURRAY | AP ]
Published Feb. 17, 2020

Blake Coleman wasn’t thinking about being traded. He has had bigger things on his mind. His wife, Jordan, is pregnant with the couple’s first child and two weeks out from her due date.

So the 28-year-old forward showed up at the Prudential Center on Sunday ready to play for the Devils as their dads trip started with a home game. Instead, he was met by interim general manager Tom Fitzgerald and told to go back home.

“It came as a bit of a shock, but I’m excited,” Coleman said. “He said I’ll thank him later.”

Related: Lightning trade for Blake Coleman from the New Jersey Devils

There’s never an easy time to be traded. Even when the move is good for your career, you have to say good-bye to friends, pick up your life and move cities in the middle of the season with maybe a day’s notice.

Coleman isn’t the first expectant father to be traded. It’s a business, after all. J.T. Miller joined the Lightning under similar circumstances two years ago. His wife packed up their life and dogs while eight months pregnant.

“We’re trying to get some answers as to when we can really expect the baby to be coming,” Coleman said Sunday night.

Fitzgerald had been transparent about taking calls on his players. New Jersey, which looked this summer to be on the upswing, is in full rebuild mode.

The Devils already traded star forward Taylor Hall to Arizona two months ago. Since then, they fired their coach and general manager. Earlier on Sunday, the team traded captain Andy Greene to the Islanders. Fitzgerald said that the organization will be focusing on building around its young pieces.

“I had kind of put it on the back burner, not expecting to be moved,” Coleman said. “We knew it would be a possibility but we really didn’t quite believe that things would be happening until our conversation (Sunday).”

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Once he got word that he’d be moved, Coleman said there were “a million things” going through his head at once. His priority was his wife and making sure she was okay.

He said the Lightning has been considerate of his family’s wishes and already made him feel comfortable. He planned to join the team in Las Vegas to make his debut Thursday, rather than flying directly to Colorado for Monday’s game.

But with hard decisions to come about how his daughter will be born, where he’ll be, and when his family will move to Tampa, there’s only so much comfort to be had at the moment.