Checkers broadcaster Jason Shaya checks in each week with his 10 Thoughts - a series of observations about the team and the hockey world in general.
If anyone wants to guess as to whether this past lockout will affect attendance and support from the fans, look no further than to Sunday’s game in Raleigh. It was pandemonium when the public address announcer said the lockout ended and the Canes would be back to work soon. They played a video montage of great team moments and you could see fans become emotional.
Justin Faulk played his last game ever for Charlotte on Sunday and I thought it was particularly apt that it took place in Raleigh.
I don’t think any forward made a better case to make the Canes roster over the past week than Zac Dalpe. Four goals in his past five games. He is playing his best hockey when it matters most.
Sunday’s game was supposed to have Checkers color commentator, Chris Jablonski, in between the benches to lend his thoughts from ice level. Technical problems ensued and it didn’t happen. But, he did provide the game with his customary clairvoyant thoughts standing right next to me.
One of the best things about the lockout ending is that I don’t have to read the defenders of the proletariat, Eric Francis, Ron Maclean and numerous other hockey insiders, discuss business practices for a long while.
What most people will see in the coming days are the Checkers players that make the jump to the Hurricanes roster. What you won’t see is the crushing emotional impact of not making it.
Each player has put a great deal of their life into this sport. They have all worked themselves to a level where they are one step away from having all that effort validated by making an NHL roster. In sharp contrast to the emotional turmoil many players go through are the general managers and hockey operations staff that make decisions based on the business of winning. Those things will converge in the coming days and there will be many sleepless nights all around.
I have a hard time believing that the Canes will use Brian Boucher as the backup goalie to Cam Ward, even if he is healthy. That means Justin Peters or Dan Ellis will become the backup to Ward in about a week. Should the Canes pick Peters over Ellis, I would expect Ellis to get signed immediately to another NHL team. Who wouldn’t want an experienced and game \-ready stellar goaltender? Theoretically, the Checkers could have to find two goalies to finish the season.
I know the talk about Carolina first-round draft pick Ryan Murphy is that he is a lock to make the Canes early in his career. But, with a 48 game schedule, every single game will mean a great deal in the standings. The room for error is small and the league won’t be as suited for young guys trying to learn the pro game. Wouldn’t it make way more sense to bring in a game-ready, productive puck-moving defenseman like Bobby Sanguinetti? Yet again, Bobby is having another brilliant season for Charlotte.
Athletic Trainer Brian Maddox put up $100 on the board for the Checkers before the game on his birthday on Jan. 3. This was the most unusual event in the history of humanity.
Goodbye Tomas Holmstrom. Winner of four Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings, the man nicknamed “The Demolition Man” is going to announce his retirement from hockey. There was never a better player, willing to take more abuse, for the sake of getting his team the tough, hard-working goals each night. A member of the greatest fourth line in hockey history with Luc Robitaille and Igor Larionov, he’ll end his career playing 1,026 games, during which he scored 243 goals among 530 points.
The best thing about getting NHL hockey back is getting to hear some of the greatest voices in the sport go back to doing what they love: John Forslund, Kenny Daniels, Chuck Kaiton, Sam Rosen, Doc Emrick and others. And, the first moment I hear Bob Cole’s voice call a game, all will be right again.
While in Raleigh, it was great talking to Chip Alexander, the Canes' beat writer for the Raleigh News and Observer. This season, he had several assists on the Checkers broadcast and is secret expert on Canadian geography! Follow him on twitter @ice_chip
Anyone else think the Canes brass was bitter after watching goaltender Frederik Andersen make one brilliant save after another on Sunday. Andersen didn’t sign with Carolina, the team that originally drafted him in the 7th round in 2010. He re-entered the draft and was picked up by Anaheim. Hard to believe he won’t be an NHL goalie one day.