With this couple of off-days between games, the Carolina Hurricanes, and those writing stories around them, have taken the opportunity to step back a bit from the moment-to-moment game recap and preview cycle to look at where the organization is from a broader perspective. Here are a few examples:
From this morning's News & Observer, Chip Alexander tells us where Jim Rutherford, who tweaked the club's roster in recent weeks, sees the team and season going from here: Month key for Canes - NewsObserver.com As Jim Rutherford sees it, this could be the crucial month for the Carolina Hurricanes.
A look at the recent additions from Paul Branecky with Canes Pleased with New-Look Fourth Line - Tracking the Storm They weren’t blockbusters by any means, but a few recent roster moves by the Hurricanes have given the team a different look at the forward position.
** UPDATE: just tweeted by the Hurricanes this TV programming alert for tonight on the new Versus hockey-themed program "Overtime" at 11pm. Cam Ward will be talking about his work with the NC Special Olympics.
Meet Nolan Ward. His dad's "2 Minutes in the Box" feature will air on @VersusNHL's Overtime tonight Picture at this link: http://yfrog.com/76boslj
After the jump, more local stories, a look at some ratings and lists, Skinner in the news, Checkers, Alumni, ASG, and plenty more.
This week's official podcast from Edwards Mill Road, Carolina Hurricanes Report (11/30/2010) with Paul Branecky and Kyle Hanlin ran about 40 minutes and included questions tweeted to them by fans including myself and a familiar blog member, abramsdoug. They have some straight talk on the schedule, the potential to see some prospects on the roster and why many of the decisions are indeed about the bottom line.
Erik Cole was on 99.9 ESPN the Fan yesterday afternoon. In the the middle we hear his veteran perspective on this team and this season. Here's the audio link (about 13 minutes). Toward the end of the interview, Cole talks about a group obviously close to his heart, his Dream Big Foundation, which held its inaugural North Carolina-based event today in the RBC Center, following the team practice, with a very cool Sled Hockey game. More on the cause and the event here: Canes Now - Cole foundation supports TSHA program
PRACTICE REPORT: I made it to practice today and tweeted some observations live. The lines have returned to Staal with Samsonov and LaRose, while Cole is back with Ruutu and Skinner. Also, all 'staches are gone except for Troy Bodie's. Some of what I saw on the ice follows:
Working on breakouts and transitions, full-ice, full-speed, looks like fun. Mo: "Get your ass up the ice!" Like I said, good times.
Trivial, but Bodie is bigger than Harrison tho both show as 6-4 on roster.
Mo: "fight your way to the puck"..
Cole on Ruu and Skinner's line and Rosey back w/Staal & Sammi. 5-on-5 drills full-ice. Better look at new guys on the 4th. Carter can fly, and calling the pattern for the 4th line.
Faceoff fun w/Sutter and Carter. Rowe drops, Francis critiquing. Francis demonstrating now on stick strategies for Sutter who's improved his % a ton the last 5 games.
A few more from the Hurricanes blogosphere:
Hard Hits feature: Odds 'n Ends - HurricanesBeat.com A Very Smart Trade: Why Carolina-Calgary trade is a winner
Paul Branecky on the team's slower schedule: Canes Get Unusual Break, Tracking the Storm Blog
HockeyBuzz.com - Matt Karash - Rutherford gradually restructuring the team
Lists and Rankings
According to statistics geek Jeff Sagarin's particular rating system, the Hurricanes have had the 8th toughest schedule in the NHL so far. And just a smidge behind the the Islanders who (this writer says) had the most difficult in the Eastern Conference. Or maybe it's just a reflection how weak a team has been playing. Take a look and don't hesitate to clarify it for me in the comments: Jeff Sagarin: NHL Schedule Ratings (USATODAY.com)
NHL Week 8 Power Ratings are out from ESPN, TSN, The Hockey News, MSN/FoxSports which show the Canes anywhere from 19th to 22nd. Carolina ended up 9th in the East at SBNHockey.
Bob's story this morning covered this list on franchise valuations released by Forbes.com last night, looking at it from the Carolina club's point of view. Here's another from corporate wise-guy, Ted Leonsis, owner of the Washington Capitals among other holdings. Hockey’s Most Valuable Teams " Teds Take
Forbes undervalues us. But who cares? We are in first place in the NHL. We sell out every game. We are situated in a top 5 media market. We now own the building that we play in,too.
Top 300 Players - Dobber Hockey provides extensive fantasy rankings of 300 NHL players as of December 1st. Eric Staal holding steady at 12th in the League, between Dany Heatley and Patrick Kane. And wow as Jeff Skinner shooting up to #61 (he was at 461 before the season began). Lots for you fantasy folks to chew on.
All things Skinner
After Michal Neuvirth got the glory for October, another rookie goalie takes the NHL's Rookie prize for November. Sergei Bobrovsky named NHL rookie of the month for November | ProHockeyTalk, where writer Joe Yerdon points out that Bob must have been really good to beat out Skinner who notched 4 Goals and 8 Assists in 14 games.
Brophy on NHL: The Quarterly Report - sportsnet.ca Canadian sportswriter Mike Brophy names Skinner as his Eastern Conference "Best Rookie of the Quarter". (sticktap to @corylav for the link)
Skinner leads NHL rookie class | Winnipeg Sun With the 2010-2011 NHL campaign more than a quarter of the way through, here's a look at six highly-touted rookies and their progress after nearly two months in the pros.
BlackBerry Player to Watch: Jeff Skinner showing why he is one player to watch. (This was linked in the comments a couple days ago - but wanted to be sure everyone got to enjoy it.)
Those smokin' hot Charlotte Checkers
One of the Checkers heroes in November was interviewed on Charlotte sports radio this morning: Zac Dalpe w/FoxSports 730AM Thursday Morning. (about 10 minutes.) I know he says he has a cold, but he sounds like he's 21 going on about 38 - in more ways than the tone of his voice.
Ten Thoughts from Shaya… | Checkers Chatter (Nov 30) The radio voice of the Checkers, Jason Shaya, talks about how good the team was this month and what stood out for him most.
From AHL.com's newsdesk: The American Hockey League | Checkers back in hunt Charlotte lost seven of its first nine games as the Carolina Hurricanes’ top affiliate, but a 3-2 overtime win at Binghamton on Oct. 30 started an 11-2-0-2 surge over the last month.
A feature on the team's most loved tough guy: Meet the Checkers: Zack FitzGerald | Checkers Chatter Checkers defenseman Zack FitzGerald (with a capital G) is a textbook case of on-the-ice/off-the-ice split identity.
Checkers Weekly Update (12/1/10) The Checkers were the AHL’s best team in the month of November, and have won seven of their last eight games along with five straight on the road.
And, last, a blogger for the Wilkes-Barre Penguins has his grades up for the AHL's Eastern Division (which includes the Penguins, Hershey, Norfolk and Charlotte) with Class Still in Session – Grading the East Division " Chirps from Center Ice
Perspectives on what votes for the NHL All Star Game can mean (or not)
NHL Star voting doesn't have to be either/or - From The Rink What happens when you see outside of the NHL box? You find alternatives to the Crosby-Ovechkin marketing fiasco.
Red Wings' Henrik Zetterberg has fun with reporter's All-Star campaign | Detroit Free Press Most NHL players would just as soon not go to the All-Star Game and instead take a little break on some sunny beach.
Up close and personal story with former Canes goalie Martin Gerber who was called up from Oklahoma City when Nikolai Khabibulin suffered a minor injury last week: For Edmonton’s Martin Gerber, success never lasts long - The Globe and Mail But in a dressing room corner, away from Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi – The Rookies who are the story of the Edmonton Oilers – sits a balding 36-year-old man, sweating and smiling sadly as he contemplates his own remarkable tale. (Since this was written: Gerber was returned to OKC yesterday with a 2-0-0 record, 1.50 GAA and .950 Save %)
And I promise you will love seeing this familiar face doing his best to bring a smile to a kid going through a tough time now up on the Facebook page of the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital
Looking forward to news from our opponent Friday evening: Anderson Will Be Available For Road Trip - Colorado Avalanche New acquisitions Matt Hunwick (formerly with the Boston Bruins), Tomas Fleischmann (from the Caps), and a couple club leaders who may be coming back from the injured reserves: Craig Anderson, Adam Foote.
With former NCAA players Zac Dalpe, Jamie McBain and Riley Nash in the fold (not to mention Erik Cole) and Justin Faulk, Brian Dumoulin, Mark Alt and Danny Biega in the wings, here's Kevin Allen's Story on how College hockey becoming bigger pipeline to NHL - USATODAY.com The NHL, once resistant to having an abundance of former college hockey players, could soon reach the point where one of three players has an NCAA background.
Hockey Broad: Building brand identity 30 seconds at a time: looking at hockey commercials Great collection of marketing videos and why they work, from around the NHL. Shall we tell her about Corn Hole on College Night?
We've been hearing that the Hurricanes players need to talk more on the ice. Here's an inside-the-glass view on what that really means: Bourne Blog: Breaking down hockey's ill communication - Puck Daddy On-ice chatter comes in all different forms, so let's break ‘em down.
Always good to see a Canes sweater in the weekly highlights, and made even more special when you hear the HOF Voice of one Chuck Kaiton refer to our Captain's derrière: NHL's Goals of the week