There’s a lot of talk around the interwebs about why the AHL is going to be so much fun to watch this year, and I have to say that while it is nice to have the extra attention while the NHL squabbles about percentages and CBA’s, it’s really business as usual for the Charlotte Checkers and the other 29 teams in the AHL. The American league is consistently overflowing with top-notch talent, and while it’s exciting to see a few extra NHL names on the AHL rosters, it’s the organization’s commitment to winning that makes the Checkers such a team to watch.
But in case you still aren’t convinced we have something special in Charlotte, here’s a few more reasons!
0 – The number of time front office staff such as Nathan Beasley will have to fill in on the ice because the Checkers roster is STACKED with talent!
2 – The number of players who have NHL head coaches as fathers. Brett Sutter’s dad Darryl is in Los Angeles, while Justin Krueger’s dad Ralph is the head coach of the Edmonton Oilers.
3 – The number of seasons Charlotte has had an AHL team, and the number of different divisions the team has played in during that time. This year, following a year where the Checkers played in the Midwest division of Milwaukee, Chicago, Peoria and Rockford, the Checkers move to the South division of Texas, Houston, San Antonio and Oklahoma City.
5 – The number of players named Justin who played for Charlotte last season, and are all eligible to play once again this year. Goaltender Justin Peters, Defensemen Justin Krueger and Justin Faulk, and Forwards Justin Shugg and Justin Soryal should all see ice time with the Checkers. So when in doubt, say Justin is your favorite player… you really can’t go wrong!
6 – The number of Sutter brothers who played in the NHL. Two is the number of second-generation Sutters who could dress as Checkers this season. Cousins Brett and Brody come from hockey royalty. Brett’s dad is Darryl Sutter, who recently won the Stanley Cup as coach of the Los Angeles Kings. Brody’s dad is Duane Sutter, who in his first four seasons as a player in the NHL, won four Stanley Cups. Winning is in the Sutter’s blood, and they will certainly bring this legacy to Charlotte.
10 – The number of Checkers players who spent time in NCAA programs honing their hockey skills. As a freshman, Justin Faulk won the NCAA championship at University of Minnesota – Duluth. Riley Nash and Justin Krueger were teammates at Cornell. Tim Wallace never missed a game during his four years at Notre Dame. Jeremy Welsh helped his team at Union College make it to the Frozen Four for the first time in the school’s history. As the starting goaltender, John Muse won two NCAA championships at Boston College. At the University of Wisconsin, Sean Dolan played in the NCAA title game as a junior, losing to Muse’s BC team, and served as the captain of his Badger team as a senior. Zac Dalpe spent two years at Ohio State University where he was the team MVP. Rob Madore, a University of Vermont alum, was second in save percentage only to Tim Thomas in his entire school’s history. Joe Sova (of the rap fame) spent three years at the University of Alaska – Fairbanks where he was named his team’s “Rookie of the Year” and as a defenseman in his final year, led the team in assists.
17 - The number Quebec native Jerome Samson wears in Charlotte. Samson is beginning his fifth season as a member of the Hurricanes AHL affiliate. He’s a two-time All Star and consistently leads the team in goals.
25 – The number Checkers player Chris Terry wears. Terry was a 2012 AHL All-star, and leads the team in games played (154) and has led the team in points in 2011-12 with 59, and in goals in 2010-11 with 34. His play on the ice is Terryiffic!
29 – The number that defenseman Michal Jordan wears. Not to be mistaken as the Michael Jordan who owns the Charlotte Bobcats, the Checkers MJ is a native of the Czech Republic and provides comic relief to teammates and fans alike through his Twitter, as well as outstanding defensive performance on the ice.
68 – The approximate number of Jeff Skinner jerseys that will be sold during his first home game if he suits up in a Checkers uniform (this is purely a guess, and I’m probably way off!)
164 – The number of penalty minutes that Checkers forward Justin Soryal racked up in the 2011-12 season. A shoulder injury sidelined him for the final month of the season, so that number can certainly be higher this year!
380 – The low low price of season tickets to see each of the Checkers home games this year. I’m not sure there’s a better value in professional sports.
6768 – The 2011-12 average attendance Charlotte had during their second season of play in the AHL. They were eighth in the league, up from 10th during their inaugural season.