There could be some lineup shuffling going on in the coming weeks as several Detroit Red Wings players hurry home to be with their pregnant wives.
First up on that list is Johan Franzen, whose wife Cecilia is due on Saturday when the Wings play Buffalo. Franzen is travelling with the team to Buffalo and they plan on stopping back in Detroit before heading west to Los Angeles on Monday. Defenseman Brian Rafalski, who will miss the Buffalo game with back spasms, will do a little swap with Franzen if necessary:
"They’ll throw Mule off the plane, throw the tether down and hook me up," Rafalski said, laughing.
Ruslan Salei and Chris Osgood are the other expecting fathers on the club. Salei missed a game last week to be with his wife at their home in California, but the baby didn't come. Osgood's wife is due in late March. Head coach Mike Babcock has had a handful on his plate with all the newborns on the way:
"I’ve got a pretty good handle on it," Babcock said. "Mule is coming with us, and we’re dropping him off. I made a mistake on Rusty — I thought he’d told me he was going to have the baby; that’s coming later. Obviously with Ozzie and him, we just try to do the right thing. For a guy like Mule who is having his first one, that’s as special as it comes, so we wish them well.
Franzen said his wife will be induced into labor if necessary on Sunday, and he expects at most to miss Monday's game with Los Angeles. The Red Wings won't be back in Detroit until at least next Sunday as they complete a four-game West Coast swing. Salei may luck out; he'll be in the area for all of next week as his wife expects their third child.