The Checkers’ 2011-12 training camp is ‘built’ by Timberstone Homes
One day before Friday’s season opener in Norfolk, the Checkers named Brett Sutter their new captain, filling the void caused by the offseason departure of Bryan Rodney.
Coach Jeff Daniels announced the news at a center-ice meeting following the conclusion of Thursday’s practice, resulting in a quick mob of congratulatory teammates. He said that Sutter, 24 and entering his fifth professional season, earned the nod because of his experience and hard work.
“We had a lot of guys to choose from, but the way Sutter handles himself on and off the ice and coaches practice led us to choose him,” said Daniels. “He’s one of those guys that talks and says the right things, but then does them too. He always backs it up.”
Sutter is a member of hockey’s most famous family, which is now producing its second generation of NHL players. In addition to his father and five uncles, three of his cousins have been drafted by NHL teams, including Brandon and Brody Sutter, who were selected by the Hurricanes. Brandon preceded Brett in the leadership department, becoming an alternate captain with Carolina last season.
In addition to naming Sutter his captain, Daniels also chose Nicolas Blanchard and Chris Durno as alternate captains. Blanchard also held that role on last season’s Checkers team.
With the arrival of Riley Nash from Carolina on Wednesday, Daniels also made two cuts to his roster, assigning Mike McKenzie and Justin Shugg to the ECHL’s Florida Everblades. Though recalled by Charlotte for a total of 14 games, the 25-year-old McKenzie spent most of last season with the Everblades, scoring 38 points in 55 contests. Shugg, a 19-year-old rookie drafted by the Hurricanes in 2010, has not yet played a professional game.
“It’s a situation where they need to play, and they’ll get a lot of ice time in Florida,” said Daniels. “It’s a long year with injuries and call-ups and I’m sure we’ll see them again, but they just have to continue to work so that they’re ready for it.
“Matt Pistilli is a perfect example,” continued Daniels, referring to the 22-year-old forward who is set to start the season with the Checkers. “He went down last year, got over the disappointment and led them in scoring, and then when he came up he never went back.”
Following Thursday’s practice, the Checkers departed for Norfolk, where they take on the Admirals in back-to-back nights beginning Friday at 7:30 p.m. Daniels said that he had a “rough idea” of which two players would serve as healthy scratches, but would not commit just yet.
“I’ve been burned too many times where I thought I had my lineup set and then I get a phone call from Carolina,” he said.
Daniels did say that Mike Murphy and Justin Peters would each play one game in goal, though he was not sure which would start game one.
Lines from Thursday’s practice:
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