1) Team Canada GM Steve Yzerman said the biggest adjustment for players won’t be the big ice surface, it will be accepting a lesser role. Perhaps every player on team Canada is used to playing 20 minutes a night. In the Olympics, some will be reduced to half of that time. How they respond will be very important to team success for any country.
2) In their last three home games, the Checkers scored 17 goals and are 1-1-1.
3) I don’t know if I’ve ever seen John Muse pulled in back-to-back games. It’s safe to say with his career success, it might have been a first for him. The game in Abbotsford, he was left out to dry on every single goal against. The following start against Oklahoma City, the entire team looked as though they completely ran out of energy. You can’t blame Muse for much at all in my opinion.
4) On the bright side of a bad situation, it has allowed time for Michael Murphy to get some more ice time. Head coach Jeff Daniels told me before the first game in Abbotsford that the lack of games this year for Murphy was a concern. After watching him come in relief of Muse last weekend and start two games as well, he looks like he is very close to top form and I loved the competitiveness we saw from Murphy on Sunday.
5) Speaking of Murphy, he had the save of the year last Wednesday. He stopped Abbotsford defenseman Tyler Wotherspon with a glorious two pad stack that had all 1,528 people in the attendance stunned.
6) Chris Terry, who I often refer to as the most important player on the team, hasn’t scored a goal in 12 games. Goal scoring hasn’t been an issue for the team, but you know he’d like to get going again.
7) I hear a lot of talk that the Russians are the odds-on favorite to win the Gold Medal in men’s ice hockey. Here is my two cents: Until someone beats the Canadians, they are the favorite to win it again. Team USA over-achieved last Olympics and I am not so sure a medal is in their future this year. But, I hope I am wrong.
8) Last year, when the Checkers took to the ice in Raleigh for the first Checkers game at PNC Arena, the building was absolutely electric. The NHL lockout had ended that morning and over 10,000 fans packed the arena in a comeback Checkers victory against Norfolk. Nothing will equal that day but playing in that building will be fun on both Friday and Sunday so please come out and support the team in the state’s capital.
9) After watching the tying goal against Oklahoma City in the final minute from Sunday’s game, it sure looked to me like the Barons defenseman shot the puck into his own net after Brett Sutter put it in front, but the jubilant, exuberant and leaping Brody Sutter erased my doubt.
10) Former ECHL and AHL Charlotte Checkers defenseman Julien Brouillette was called up from Hershey to Washington last week. He registered his first point in his first game and then scored a goal the second night in front of his parents in Washington. When he was in his first training camp with Columbia of the ECHL, he was on the bubble. Their head coach Troy Mann was having a hard time picking his final defenseman and it came down to Brouilette or another player. Brouilette walked into Troy’s office after the last day of camp and said if you put me on the team, you won’t regret it. The moment after he walked out, Troy made the decision that Brouillette would be on the roster. He’s a great defenseman and one of the classiest players you’ll ever meet.
11) Michael and Wendy Kahn’s foundation donated another $25,000 to Go Jen Go and promised an additional $5,000 a year for the next decade. If you were there to watch the Pink in the Rink game then you understand how small hockey becomes compared to life’s tragedies and triumphs that the team highlighted on Friday. The Kahn Family Foundation continues to be a beacon of light in a dark time for many including the Pagani family. The enormous generosity of Michael and Wendy Kahn makes me even more proud to be a part of this organization.
12) Yesterday would’ve been my father’s 73rd birthday. Over my career, when I see players with their fathers, I’m continually reminded of the feeling that something will always be missing in my life without another embrace from the greatest man I’ve ever known. I still have about a million unanswered questions I’d like to ask him but it’s wasn’t meant to be ... and so I soldier on to tomorrow.