James Russell Howard III waited long enough. Not so for James Russell Howard IV, however.

The 3-month-old son of Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard already has his passport. He got his first pair of skates when he was born — slightly ahead of schedule, and in a bit of a hurry — in late October. And though he's not big enough to wear them yet, the plan was for father and son to go skating this weekend on the historic Rideau Canal that runs through Ottawa, Ontario.

"Oh, yeah," Howard said. "We're going on the canal. I can't wait."

Canada's capital city is host to this weekend's NHL All-Star Game. It's also less than an hour's drive from Howard's hometown of Ogdensburg, N.Y. And it's where Howard — making his first All-Star trip in his third full season as a starter after years of biding his time in the minors — played summer hockey as a youth, attended goaltender school one night a week as a teenager and eventually played Junior A hockey.

"So it's a pretty cool homecoming for me, being in my backyard," Howard said.

Howard's wife, Rachel, handled all the family ticket requests to help her husband keep his mind on hockey. Keeping his mind off hockey is his son's trick, though. And if you're looking for a hidden secret to Howard's success this season, that just might be it.

"It's unbelievable," said Howard, who was married — he and Rachel met at the University of Maine — in August 2009. "You go down after a game and there he is and everything else just sort of goes away — no more hockey.

"Even on the road, if a night doesn't go well, my wife will send me a photo of him and it'll change my mood completely. I'm not really thinking about the game anymore. I'm not really stewing over anything."