While we wait and wonder what the powers that be on Edwards Mill Road are contemplating for their next move in this long off-season, some familiar faces are still playing hockey in May, albeit not in a Hurricanes' jersey. Some links to help you see the success their having, on and off the ice.
Those Charlotte Checkers
In a little while, at 6:30 pm tonight, in Uptown Charlotte's "EpiCentre", the team is hosting an Eastern Conference Championship Playoff Rally and viewing party to watch CHECKERS, ZACH BENNETT, FAMILY TO BE FEATURED ON ESPN E:60. The piece will air during TONIGHT's season finale at 7 p.m. on ESPN. [UPDATED with the video embedded at the end of the story, above the comments]
Checkers/Penguins Game 6, May 7, 2011 Some 49 photos of the series winner to view in this album from the Checkers facebook page.
Video of a Live spot on local evening news with rookie netminder Mike Murphy and Checkers' COO Tera Black from Monday evening.
This 3 1/2 minute video opened the local news last week as the Checkers sought to clinch the East Division Title: Cover Story: Checkers power play - WBTV 3 News The Charlotte Checkers are making a serious run at a championship.
Canes Country will have representatives on hand for both games 1 and 2 this weekend so look for much more in the form of previews, live blogs, interviews and analysis all week. For reference till then (or if you're planning on heading to Charlotte too), here is our printable 3-page roster and stats sheet for Game 1 of the AHL Eastern Conference Final, coming up Thursday. Canes Country's Game Guide: Checkers vs Senators (Game 1).
After the jump, more on the series, scouting the Binghamton Senators, links galore from the IIHF on Jeff Skinner and Tuomo Ruutu, and a quick look at some interesting stories around the puckworld.
A recent in-depth interview with the Checkers' Captain and soon to be UFA Bryan Rodney: Hard Hits: Charlotte defenseman Bryan Rodney - HurricanesBeat.com from David Droschak: Depth Guy AHL vet Bryan Rodney aims for lasting NHL spot.
Here's one matchup I hope to be seeing a lot of this series: from earlier this season, an image of Oskar Osala welcoming Sens defenseman Andre Benoit to Charlotte. Benoit, 27, is listed at 5'11" and 185 lbs.
If you hadn't heard, all 7 games of the series are set to be televised for those with Time Warner Cable in North Carolina on Channel 519 or 520. Yes, that includes the games in New York (Meaning no AHL Live fees for fuzzy online streaming, at least if you're a TWC customer. Woohoo!)
And a last note about Charlotte's Time Warner Cable Arena looking forward to next September: Bobcats, Hurricanes Line Up Venue Swap For Preseason Games - SportsBusiness Journal The Bobcats and Hurricanes announced they have scheduled a "building swap" for preseason games this fall. The Bobcats will play the Heat Oct. 19 at RBC Center in Raleigh, and the Hurricanes will play the Thrashers Sept. 25 at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte.
Scouting the Binghamton Senators
The Checkers have a newly signed rookie blueliner Justin Faulk who joined the team during the Hershey series. Now Binghamton has Jared Cowen, who was Ottawa's first round pick in 2009 (9th overall), and just signed from WHL's Portland Winterhawks. Here's the scoop:
DEFENSEMAN JARED COWEN JOINS B-SENS FOR PLAYOFF RUN: binghamtonsenators.com The 6-5, 228-pound defenseman earned a silver medal with Team Canada at the 2010 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship, which was held in Saskatchewan. He appeared in six games for Canada, recording one assist and two penalty minutes while concluding the tournament with a plus-4 rating.
A full report from the Sens practice Monday from beat writer Joy Lindsay: Healthy returnees bolster Binghamton Senators' blue line | Press & Sun-Bulletin The Binghamton Senators got some good news Monday as they returned to the ice following two much-appreciated days away.
More from Joy Lindsay | Press & Sun-Bulletin | Monday practice update Travel plans are still up in the air at this point, but looks like they'll be leaving tomorrow so they can get a good practice in Charlotte on Wednesday before game day Thursday
The local Binghamton TV station talks to players and coach in this 1-minute video spot: B-Sens Ready To Hit The Road, With Some Help | WBNG-TV
AHL Coaches in the spotlight
Steve Solloway: Simply put, respect Kevin Dineen | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram In fact, in the aftermath of losing Game 6 to Binghamton to end the playoff series, I overheard two longtime fans suggest the team needs a new coach. That had to be black humor talking. Or venting of frustration. Tongues in cheeks, as the saying goes. An overreaction.
Hurricanes Beat, Hard Hits feature: Charlotte coach Jeff Daniels Daniels knows a thing or two about hovering between the minors and the big time. He played 515 games in the AHL and IHL, and another 425 in the NHL. It's one of the reasons his Checkers team is gearing up for the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs, beginning Thursday night against at Scranton/Wilkes Barre. Daniels knows how to reach a group of players who have bigger dreams.
Meanwhile, over in Slovakia
The IIHF World Championships are down to the Elite Eight. The Quarterfinal games are Wednesday and Thursday, Semifinals Friday and the Medal Games Sunday. You can keep up with the progress here at IIHF's schedule page or, as always, on the always current Canes Country Calendar. Many of these games will be aired on Versus with start times usually at 10am or 2pm, so check your local TV guides to set the DVR.
Some great quotes regarding good luck following hard work from the Canes representative to Team Suomi: Bounces: player's best friend - IIHF.com Tuomo Ruutu gave one reporter a lecture on the topic after Finland’s game against Slovakia when the reporter took up the fact that, well, his two goals in the game had looked a little lucky. And luck without hard work would simply be cheating.
Back home in Finland, the votes are in. Once again, among Finnish hockey players,Tuomo Ruutu is the hottest Leo
Ever (and deservedly) the media darling, TSN.ca had this on our Calder candidate playing for his homeland: Canadian teenager Skinner making birthday plans after worlds with this from his Old School Coach, Ken Hitchcock:
"He's young but he's a throwback," said Hitchcock. "The respect he has for the game, the respect he has for the hierarchy of leadership, his body language, his mannerisms at team meals, the respect he has for the veteran players -- that's maturity. "That's a really well brought-up kid."
Plus check out this Q&A, with fans around the globe submitting questions to #53 via twitter over the weekend, as presented by the writers at IIHF.com: With the fans: Jeff Skinner, Young gun talks about the prom, figure skating, and Mats. Sample:
Alexander, St. Petersburg, Russia: Are you looking forward to playing against your Carolina teammate Tuomo Ruutu in a game against Finland at this World Championship?
Well, yes and no. I mean, he's a tough player to play against, so I'm not looking forward in that sense, but he's been doing well over here.
If both Canada and Finland win their quarterfinal matchups (over Russia and Norway respectively), they will indeed square off at 2pm EDT Friday in the second Semifinal.
OHL and other prospects
We've been keeping up with this kid's efforts which appear to be as clutch as those of his future teammates in Charlotte: Majors’ Justin Shugg Named OHL Player of the Week, OntarioHockeyLeague.com Justin Shugg of the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors is the OHL Player of the Week with a league-high six points scoring three goals and three assists in the first four games of the Rogers OHL Championship Series against the Owen Sound Attack.
Here's a recap from last week on how Shugg earned such kudos: Thursday's 3 Stars: Shugg's pair helps Majors take 2-0 lead - Buzzing The Net - Yahoo! Sports No. 1 star: Justin Shugg showed his usual nose for the net, scoring early in each of the first two periods to help the Majors take a near-stranglehold 2-0 lead over the Owen Sound Attack with a 6-2 road win in Game 2.
[Not so fast - The series between the Majors and Sound Attack, to determine the OHL Champion, is now tied at 2 games apiece, with Game 5 of the best-of-7 series set for tonight.]
Looking ahead to the other side of summer when the club's rookies and the brass head to Traverse City, Michigan: 2011 Prospects Tournament Schedule released and is set for September 10 - 14, 2011. Among the eight teams participating, the Buffalo Sabres are in, while the Tampa Bay Lightning are out.
Looking around the League
- CBCSports.ca | Elliotte Friedman | Keefe has coaching chops, plus 30 thoughts Here's one that struck a chord with me: 15) When I see the Nashville Predators, I see what Washington's missing - a hunger, a sense of urgency. If you could combine the Capitals roster with the Predators' ferocity, you'd have a hell of a team.
- Hockey's coat of many colours | Toronto Sun, Steve Simmons The changing face of hockey in this province made startling history on Saturday when three of the first six selections — four of the first 12 players picked — in the Ontario Hockey League priority draft were players of colour.
- Coach takes it one day at a time | Calgary Sun On Nashville's assistant coach Brent Peterson: But only in the last year has the disease’s attack on Peterson’s central nervous system progressed to the point he now faces a life without his first love: Hockey.
- Preds On The Glass: Jay Mohr to Return as NHL Award Show Host (Press Release) Actor, writer and comedian Jay Mohr will return to Las Vegas in June to host the 2011 NHL Awards and honor the National Hockey League’s biggest stars for the second straight year.
Finally, in their own inimitable way, Down Goes Brown offers "A brief history of NHL playoff goats" including:
June 5, 2006 - The Edmonton Oilers lose the game and eventually the series after the previously unbeatable Dwayne Roloson is injured in a goal mouth scramble, Boston Bruins players are innocently reminding each other right now.