BRANDON — Blake Coleman stood at his locker-room stall Friday afternoon looking exhausted. But he wasn’t tired from the hour’s worth of Lightning practice he had just finished. The forward was tired because he and wife Jordan had welcomed a baby girl Thursday night.
“(I’m) glad the baby and mom are in good health,” Coleman said, still wearing his hospital bracelet on his left wrist. “She’s beautiful. I’m already missing her. I’m excited to go back and see her.”
Charlie was born at 5:53 p.m. after 25 hours of labor weighing 7 pounds, 2 ounces. She is named after Jordan’s father, Charles, and her middle name is Jordan, like her mother.
The doctor joked that Coleman could still make Thursday’s 7 p.m. game against the Blackhawks if he wanted, but the new dad was happy spending the time with his family. Hockey could wait until Friday’s practice, though the Lightning told him he could take more time off if he wanted. He returned to the lineup in time for Saturday’s game against Calgary.
Coleman quipped that the timing was right to return to the team. He left the hospital Friday morning just as Charlie started crying.
“I’m also here to win games and compete,” Coleman said. “(It felt) good to be back here and get a sweat and hopefully get the ship going the right way (Saturday against the Flames).”
The Lightning have lost four straight.
Coleman joked that initially he wasn’t sure that he wanted to have a girl for his first child.
“I always thought I wanted a boy first,” he joked, “but after having my little girl, I think I was sorely wrong. There’s nothing like it. She immediately becomes the most important thing in your world, and it was an emotional day for me, my wife and my family.”
Coleman estimated he’d slept about only five hours over the previous two days, two hours Wednesday and three hours Thursday. He said, chuckling, after Friday’s practice that he looked forward to getting some rest after seeing Charlie again.
Coleman, acquired in a trade with the Devils on Feb. 16, said Charlie could be a “Marriott baby” for a couple of days until the family moves into their Tampa home Monday.
The Colemans also had to figure out who would take care of their dog, a 1-year-old goldendoodle named Wyn, while they were at the hospital. But they didn’t have to worry for long. Yanni Gourde was the first teammate to offer his services.
“I have two dogs at home, one daughter (Emma),” Gourde joked. “It’s a full house.”
The forward has developed his own nickname for Wyn, opting to call the furry house guest Wynnie.
Gourde, who became a dad in May 2018, remembers his daughter’s birth vividly. He took his wife, Marie, to the hospital right after the Lightning finished Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Bruins.
“It’s so much fun (being a father to a girl),” Gourde said, grinning widely. “It’s just different, the way she looks at you and ... that face when she looks at you in the morning and is, like, all smiling and so happy to see you. It’s really fun and really nice.”
Kevin Shattenkirk was excited for the Colemans, too. His son, Connor, was born last summer. The defenseman said he now has an understanding of what it’s like to be a dad in the league.
“(Coleman is) in the best part of it right now,” Shattenkirk joked. “The hospital has his daughter and he can just kind of take it slowly but just enjoy it, too.”