First, a bit of shameless self-promotion…. Chasing Checkers was nominated in the 2011 CBS Charlotte’s Most Valuable Blogger awards. It’s easy to vote, and apparently you can vote every day between now and September 9. Click on the link to the right to vote, and thanks so much for your support.
So here are some of my observations about the schedule. It took me awhile to digest, heck, 76 games is a lot for anyone to comprehend. (If you haven’t already, the Checkers website allows you to download the schedule in a million formats, including my personal favorite, Google Calendar. Though if anyone can figure out how to add “Public calenders” to a Blackberry, I’d love to know!)
Here are a few observations, in no particular order:
- Opening night in Charlotte couldn’t be on a more terrible date… Saturday, October 15 is also the date for the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Deep in the heart of the Chase for the Championship, this race will have over 100K people, and will occur at exactly the same time our Checkers take the ice. It’s too bad, and a real disservice to Charlotte if you ask me.
- The regular season schedule is set, but still no word on preseason games, nor have I seen Charlotte’s name linked to other clubs announcements of their opponents. Hopefully, we will see something soon.
- My favorite date on the schedule might be an away game. December 31, the Checkers play the Chicago Wolves. I can’t think of a place in our division that would be more fun to ring in the New Year. I can assure you, I’m planning a trip to this game (and Rockford the day before!)
- I’m still disappointed that the Checkers don’t play all 14 of the Western Conference Teams. Hamilton, Toronto and Rochester were all left off of Charlotte’s schedule. The only Eastern teams Charlotte plays are Hershey and Norfolk.
- The Checkers have a lot of long homestands, which makes up for some of the more brutal roadtrips. After opening in Norfolk, the Checkers return for a little over two weeks, and five games against Peoria, Houston and Norfolk October 15-23. They also have two six-game homestands in late November/early December, and again in mid-March.
- The Checkers won’t have many long bus trips at all. The most brutal jump I see is Oklahoma City to Texas (just outside of Austin), which is a little over a six-hour drive at 376 miles. Equally terrible is November 4-6, where they go from Milwaukee to Grand Rapids back to Rockford in three days. Each of those jumps is about a five-hour drive. Later in the season, they hop from Grand Rapids to Peoria, another five-hour drive, but it’s not a 3-in-3 and therefore not as brutal.
- The way I see it, there are 14 mini-trips within the schedule that involve a round trip flight and 2-3 games played within a small circle of driving, and without four games in five nights, it’s not nearly as bad on the schedule as last year was.
- Last season, the Checkers had seven 3-in-3’s, and of those, one was a 5-in-6, and three were the now outlawed 4-in-5. This year, the Checkers have eight 3-in-3’s, but of those, two are homestands, and two feature games on back-to-back nights against the same team. Overall, these numbers alone make me like the schedule better!
- The times that our Sunday games are completely random and inconsistent, as if the AHL and Checkers couldn’t decide what time was best. We have home games at 2pm, 3pm, 5pm and 6pm. I’m sure there’s a good reason for this, but it’s kind of confusing if you ask me!
- If I could pick three road trips to go to support the Checkers, here would be my choices: December 30-31 in Rockford and Chicago. January 7-8 in Milwaukee and Chicago. (I’ve already priced the hotel rooms, rental cars and plane tickets for this trip. I’m even tempted to leave my beloved Checkers game early on Sunday and see the Red Wings play the Blackhawks in Chicago. I’d say there’s a VERY good chance I will make this trip!) Finally, last but not least, April 13-15 to see Peoria, Rockford and Milwaukee, assuring I’ve been to all of the Midwest cities to see the Checkers play.