During the season, Checkers broadcaster Jason Shaya checks in each week with his 10 Thoughts - a series of observations about the team and the hockey world in general.
1. Checkers coach Mike Vellucci demanded his team be better than the home opener on Friday night and after a shaky first period, Charlotte dominated the game on Saturday. Vellucci got the most out of all four lines and the goaltending of Alex Nedeljkovic was sensational. I thought a case could be made for Alex being named first star of the game.
2. How much longer before someone hires Darryl Sutter to be their new NHL head coach? A month, maybe less is my guess.
3. There is no player I've seen in the AHL that makes it look easier than Lucas Wallmark. Coach Vellucci said recently that Wallmark isn't far off from being an NHL caliber player. There is little doubt Wallmark is a special player.
4.A former NHL first-round draft pick told me this summer that he had a conversation with another player who was disappointed not to make the NHL team out of training camp. The advice this former high draft pick gave was interesting. He said that sometimes not making the team is an advantage. When the big club has difficulty and they call you up, if you make a difference and things move in the right direction, you are deemed as a difference maker. Now they will have a hard time sending you down or sitting you.
5.Congrats to the entire Checkers staff for two flawless games this weekend. Often, the opening weekend is the first time many young staff members have been to a game as an employee. But the Checkers front office was in mid-season form, led by COO Tera Black and savvy 15 year opening night veteran, Senior Vice President Shawn Lynch.
6. Friday will mark the first ever game between Charlotte and Rochester. Broadcast start time on Friday is 6:50 p.m. The next two games, on Saturday and Sunday, are both 4 p.m. puck drops, so be prepared for some late afternoon hockey with us. This is the first three games in three days on the schedule and I can tell you they are not easy for anyone.
7. How about what goaltender Malcom Subban did on Monday? This kid has battled for years in the AHL and Vegas decided to claim him off waivers after recognizing there was something more there than Boston believed. Not only did he defeat Boston on Monday night for his first NHL victory, but he played an excellent game along the way. Incredible story for Vegas and Subban.
8. I realize with Marc-Andre Fleury being out with a concussion, Vegas will need some help in goal. Do they have any appetite to trade for a netminder now? Fleury has a history of concussions and there is no telling how long he could be out. Is Detroit's Petr Mrazek an option?
9. I think Zack Stortini made quite the impression in his first game for Charlotte on Saturday night. After he laid down a few big hits, it seemed like the Checkers forwards felt a little more at ease knowing he was out there.
10. Finally, congrats to my friend and co-worker Paul Branecky and his lovely wife Quinn on the birth of their third child and first daughter, Vivianne Jane Branecky. Now his sons Collin and Evan will have a goalie to put in net soon enough.