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. Canes GM Don Waddell attended the Checkers game on Saturday night. He had a good look at several players that had solid performances including Julien Gauthier who scored a big third period goal and was skating hard all night. It’s easy to tell when you talk to Waddell why he’s so respected in this business.
2. Last night Canes broadcaster John Forslund said it was Haydn Fleury’s best game as an NHL player. He was right. Haydn was playing with confidence and took advantage of the opportunity given to him.
3. Two weeks ago I bumped into Cleveland Monsters’ center Zac Dalpe and he said to me his favorite coach in pro hockey was Jeff Daniels. Zac isn’t the only player to say that to me over the years. JD is among the most respected and decent men I’ve met working in this sport. His impact on players is still felt to this day.
4. For over 1,000 games Iowa Wild broadcaster Joe O’Donnell has been calling games in the minors. Last week, he got to call his first NHL games for the Minnesota Wild radio broadcast while the team was on a California road trip. Joe is a fantastic broadcaster and a great dad to his three boys. He deserves the opportunity and lots of us in the AHL are truly happy for him.
5. The Junior Checkers team may be a relatively new AAA program, but the team is off to an incredible start and they’re highly competitive against very established teams they’ve faced around the country. Derek Wilkinson, who plays a key role running the team, is very proud of the players and coaches this season.
6. Even though Clark Bishop only has one point this season, his hard work isn’t going unnoticed. If he plays with the kind of tenacity that vaulted him to the NHL last year, it will only be a matter of time before they come calling again. His continued work on the penalty kill is the primary reason Charlotte is so good when shorthanded.
7. One of the most underrated players in the NHL is Lucas Wallmark. He consistently wins over 50% of his faceoffs, creates numerous scoring chances for his linemates and never sacrifices on the defensive side of the puck. Every team would love a center like Wallmark.
8. After two grueling practices on Tuesday and Wednesday last week, head coach Ryan Warsofsky told his team they worked harder in practice than any of the previous games. It wasn’t an attempt to malign anyone. His point was that if they don’t work hard, they won’t win many games. By practicing with high intensity, you play harder when it matters. I think that was evident last weekend taking 3 of 4 points.
9. This Checkers team doesn’t have the depth or skill to outscore mistakes, which shifts the focus to the play away from the puck and in the defensive zone. If those aspects are overlooked, the inevitable corollary is losing.
10. Former Checkers forward Tomas Jurco was waived by Edmonton last week. A lot of us here were very surprised. Jurco did have surgery early in the season which might have derailed his start. The fact is, Tomas is a solid player with not only high-end skill but a real desire to compete each and every night. He’s a quality teammate and was pivotal in the development of Martin Necas and the championship. I’m guessing he ends up back in the NHL soon enough. He’s definitely missed here.
The team heads out on a 10-day road trip starting in Hershey this Friday. Join us for all the action on AHLTV, ESPN 730 stream and the Checkers app.