Catching Up With River Rats Coach Jeff Daniels

Second-year pro Nick Dodge has made an impression with Albany coach Jeff Daniels, who called the center "steady, very professional and low maintenance." Photo by Sandpiper

It's been an eventful week off the ice for Carolina's AHL affiliate. The Albany River Rats were sold to Charlotte Checkers owner Michael Kahn, who will move the team to the Queen City next season, reincarnating the Checkers as the Hurricanes new in-state AHL team. For River Rats coach Jeff Daniels, a relocation to Charlotte means a move back to North Carolina. But Daniels' focus is still on Albany and the Rats, who are in the thick of the playoff race.

Here's some quick quotes from Daniels on several topics and players:

  • On the move to Charlotte: "It should be good for the state of North Carolina to get the Canes name out to the whole state."
  • On call-ups to Raleigh and an ever-changing lineup: "You just wait for the phone to ring. You just take it as it comes. We can just worry about what we have."
  • On Zach Boychuk's progess: "Like any young player, it's being consistent." 
  • On Boychuk's skill: "With Zach, it's all about speed. He's a very creative player, and he's a special player with the puck."
  • On Drayson Bowman: "He's battled some injuries this year, but he's getting better and stronger. He's a shooter — he likes to score goals. Like Boychuk, [he needs to work on] being consistent away from the puck."
  • On Jiri Tlusty, who is getting his first extended time in Albany: "He's very strong on the puck and very gifted with the puck, plus he sees plays."
  • On Justin Peters staying focused despite being passed over early in the season: "He showed it by the way he played. [He played in] no exhibition games, but he worked hard. ... He's a true leader and very driven."
  • On Mike Murphy: "He's been very patient all year. He's just coming back from an injury, but now gets a chance to make the most of his opportunity [with Peters in Carolina before the Olympic break]."
  • On Nick Dodge: "He's steady, very professional and low maintenance. I can toss wherever I need him to be: first line, checking line. You know what you're going to get with Dodgie. He takes pride in the little things." 
  • On Casey Borer coming back from a long-term injury: "He's just kind of going through his training camp. We threw him right into a game and he came out hard and strong. [But there will be some] growing pains from being out so long."
  • On Bryan Rodney: "He's stepped up in a leadership role. ... He's working on his defense."
  • On rookie Chris Terry: "You didn't know how he'd react [as a first-year pro], but he's been a pleasant surprise for us. He was a big scorer in junior. He listened to what the coaches in Carolina said [to work on]. ... He's playing his best hockey the past one and a half months."
  • On Stefan Chaput: "He's been OK for us. He started out real strong, but he's hit a bit of a wall. ... He's going to be a two-way center, but needs to work on [his play] in his own end."
  • On the difference in defenseman Brett Bellemore from this year to last, when he was sent back to Plymouth for an overage season: "He's matured so much in that one year. Positionally, he's very sound."
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