Charlotte Checkers head coach Ryan Warsofsky announced today that Roland McKeown has been named the sixth captain in franchise history.
The 23-year-old defenseman is the franchise’s active leader in games played, having logged 210 games in a Checkers sweater.
“He’s been a captain in junior, he’s obviously coming off a championship and he had a really good training camp,” said Warsofsky. “He’s a true pro, he comes to the rink every day and wants to get better.”
McKeown joins a list of Checkers captains that includes Bryan Rodney (2010-11), Brett Sutter (2011-14), Michal Jordan (2014-15), Derek Ryan (2015-17) and most recently Patrick Brown (2017-19). The blueliner, who wore an A at times last season, will bring his own brand of leadership to his new role.
“He works on his craft and speaks up when he needs to,” said Warsofsky. “He’s not Patrick Brown, he’s a different leader and that’s OK. Patrice Bergeron is a different leader than Steve Yzerman was. That’s just how it is. I think he’s the right guy for it.”
Joining McKeown will be a trio of rotating alternate captains in Clark Bishop, Brian Gibbons and Fredrik Claesson.
Gibbons and Claesson both joined the organization via free agency this offseason and bring with them eight and seven pro seasons, respectively, worth of experience, making them two of the most tenured players on the Charlotte roster.
“Gibbons and Freddy have a lot of experience in the NHL,” said Warsofsky. “They are older guys who have been through it before and know what it takes to be a pro.”
Bishop is a familiar face for the organization, having pulled himself from ECHL time his rookie year to 20 NHL games this past season.
“The reason I like Bishop is he plays at an extremely high level,” said Warsofsky. “He competes extremely hard and that’s how you have to play night in and night out. He’s not going to be a rah-rah guy either, he’s going to be a guy where Steven Lorentz is sitting on the bench watching him and going ‘Wow, he plays hard. That’s how I need to play.’”
While that is the group that will wear letters, there are plenty of other voices in the room that Warsofsky will count on, most notably one between the pipes.
“We’re going to have a good leadership group,” he said. “Alex Nedeljkovic is going to be in there, it’s important that he has a voice.”