1) I am sure excuses will be doled out regarding why the team didn’t make the playoffs. Things like difficulty of travel or lack of depth in certain positions are probably amongst the many. But, here is one thing to remember: when the team simply needed to play about .500 hockey in the month of April, they ended 1-6. Checkers fans can rest assured that no one in the organization is happy but sometimes you take steps back in order to move forward.
2) Talking with Checkers forward Sergey Tolchinsky after his pro debut in Rockford, he said the experience was eye-opening. He said he didn’t expect it to be so different from the OHL and it was a harder game. However, having played a game for Charlotte, he said it helped him realize how much work there was ahead of him.
3) During Game 2 of the Detroit/Boston series, people were all over Detroit defenseman Brendan Smith because he stood up to Zdeno Chara. Smith should be commended, not ridiculed. Leave it to cowards to think that getting pushed around is acceptable so long as they don’t get punched in the face. Good for Smith for standing up for his teammates and himself.
4) Brett Sutter has been the captain of the Checkers for the past three seasons. I want to take a moment and say thank you to Brett for being the consummate professional and embodiment of a leader. I still have no doubt at all that he is a capable NHL forward and we hope he finds his way there again next season. By the time we start next season, Brett and his wife will welcome to the birth of their first child. He’s a heck of a man and he’ll be a great father.
5) Next month will be my grandmother’s 80th birthday party. A refugee of Iraq, she found a home just outside the U.S. border in Ontario, where she revels in being a Canadian citizen. She is one of the strongest people I’ve ever met, still managing to fast on holy days of obligation. Can’t wait to see her soon.
6) After talking with some of the younger generation of hockey players coming up in the past few years, I tend to worry that professionalism is fading and making way for a more arrogant and self-obsessed individual. I get the sense that we are on the verge of losing some of what we cherish about our sport. Well-rounded individuals like Mark Flood and Brett Sutter make our sport respectable and dignified.
7) By the time we write another column, a slew of new players will be signed and the countenance of the team might look quite different. It’s hard to image a team without certain players in the lineup. As we speculate, the team could be quite younger than in previous seasons. Inexperienced teams without quality leadership don’t usually fare well in this league.
8) I want to send my gratitude to Paul Branecky for all his work over the course of the season. His reporting is unequalled in this league. He works tirelessly to find content for the sake of Checkers fans each and every day. We are lucky he’s a part of our team.
9) Thanks to every single fan who tuned into the broadcasts this season. Whether it was listening to us call a late game in Abbotsford or staying with us during a three-in-three swing when my voice was giving out at times, I appreciate your loyalty to Checkers hockey very much.
10) My finals words of the final broadcast were taken from one of the greatest leaders of the 20th Century: Winston Churchill. He addressed the French Republic on October 21, 1940, on radio and I thought his concluding words were profound. So, I will use them as my sign-off here until next season: “Good night then: Sleep to gather strength for the morning. For the morning will come. Brightly it will shine on the brave and true, kindly upon all who suffer for the cause, glorious upon the tombs of heroes. Thus will shine the dawn.”