Jordin Tootoo knows he'll be emotional and, above all, excited.

When the Red Wings play the Predators tonight at Bridgestone Arena, it'll be the first time Tootoo faces the team that brought him into the NHL and nurtured his growth as a player and person. He spent eight seasons with the Predators, until they let him become an unrestricted free agent last summer, when the Wings offered him three years and $5.7 million.

Maybe it would be easier if the Predators had come to Detroit, first, but at least Tootoo gets the game out of the way during the opening month.

"I'm just taking it in stride," he said. "I don't know what to expect. It should be an experience in itself. Coming into Nashville, driving in on the bus, everything was a first for me.

"I think there's going to be a lot of mixed emotions out there. I'm excited."

It helps to have his father, Barney, by his side, the convenient coincidence of the visit falling during the Wings' traditional fathers trip.

"My dad has been watching me play games here for the last nine years, so he's excited to be back," Tootoo said. "But at the same time, he told me a couple of days ago, I just want you to go out there and do your thing and everything else will take care of itself."