TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Lightning winger Blake Coleman was a "game-time decision" to play in Game 1 against the New York Islanders on Sunday. Not for injury, not for illness, but for childbirth.
His wife, Jordan Coleman, went into labor the morning of Game 1. Blake Coleman said he decided to play based on the timeline she and his family were providing him via text messages in the lead-up to the afternoon start. He was able to make it to the hospital after the game for the birth of their daughter Carson.
"Thank goodness I made it on time. Not sure I would have heard the end of that one," he said. "We're incredibly happy that she's here, and I was happy that I could be there and be a part of it."
Lightning coach Jon Cooper said he and Coleman discussed his status before the game. "It was all family first, game second. Let's plan around the family and then if you've got time, come play a hockey game with us," he said. "Fortunately, everything worked out, timing-wise."
Game 1 was a tightly played battle between the Lightning and the Islanders, one that ended with New York winning 2-1 in regulation. Coleman said the possibility of overtime, given his circumstances, was a topic of conversation among the Lightning players.
"I thought that [Steven Stamkos] one-timer was labeled [for a goal]. I definitely thought it was just one of those things where we were going to overtime," he said, referring to a golden opportunity for the Lightning captain to have tied the game late in the third period. "It was definitely discussed in the family and on the bench. I would have preferred that shot went in and we went to OT. Based off the timeline, I think I would have still been able to sneak out for the baby."
Coleman is an old pro when it comes to the hockey/birth balance. He and Jordan welcomed daughter Charlie in February 2020, about two weeks after he joined the Lightning at the trade deadline. Coleman missed a regular-season game against Chicago on Feb. 27 for that blessed event. This time the stakes were higher, with the Lightning having opened the third round of the Stanley Cup playoffs on Sunday.
"Obviously, I wanted to play if that was possible. Thankfully, she slowly progressed. I was getting updated as the game went on [regarding] where we were. Thankfully, she held off on a few of the things to help the process along," he said.
Coleman said the birth of his daughter acted like a point of demarcation after the loss to the Islanders. "It was nice to have that. It helped me turn the page on Game 1 pretty much immediately," he said.
He's thankful for having a healthy newborn and for the help he and Jordan will receive as his playoff journey continues, starting with Game 2 against the Islanders on Tuesday night.
"We've got a few hands in town to help out. I'm trying to put my focus and attention in the right places at the right times right now," he said. "Hopefully I can find that dad energy that everyone's been talking about."