Frustration – A Charlotte Checkers editorial

For the first time since January, I got to see about 35 minutes of hockey last night, live and in person at TWCA.  And it was great to be at the arena after a schedule that has kept me at work for about 50 of the last 54 days (I swear, I have a day off in April!  About four of them even!)

I will admit though, it was NOT a nice “return to live Checkers hockey” for me.  The game was frustrating.  I know I’m not alone in voicing that opinion.  Everyone is frustrated.  The players skated off the ice at the second intermission as fast as they could, heads down and defeated.  The team has now lost three straight, and been scored on 17 times in those games, while only scoring four of their own.

As I read the teams official post-game press release, I thought to myself what a relief it is that I’m no longer working professionally in Public Relations, because coming up with anything positive about recent on-ice performance would be a huge challenge for me.

It’s frustrating.

I’m merely a supporter of the team.  Covering them isn’t my job, and I clearly have no income as a result of them playing, and I suppose technically, they negatively impact my income in that they are my biggest “hobby/fun” expense, in that I spend a lot of money on season tickets and traveling to away games.

What do I think is wrong?  I’m not exactly sure.  A number of things, probably.  But whatever it is, I hope the team can figure it out and get it working again.  The Checkers spent the first two months of this year atop the Midwest Division, and one of the top two teams in the Western Conference, and now, after a slide that has the team 1-4-1-1 during the month of March, and 3-6-1-4 in the past 10 games, a stretch that dates back to February 12.

  • Justin Peters hasn’t won a game since he came back to Charlotte in early March.  He’s 0-3-1.  Peters hasn’t been the same since coming back to Charlotte.  Last night, his play was relatively abysmal.  The pucks that went in over his blocker were border line unforgivable for a goaltender with his experience. Is he frustrated he’s playing in the AHL again, flying commercial and riding buses?  Maybe.  But he’s also a professional athlete and knew he was going to be in the minors this year.
  • Mike Murphy isn’t doing much better, and is 1-1-0-1 during the month of March.  When he was pulled on Friday night after allowing four goals, I wasn’t surprised. The Checkers defense is bruised and broken right now, and PTO signings and ECHL call ups aren’t filling the holes they need to.  I was surprised there wasn’t a wake up call to the players in front of him who continued to play relatively irresponsibly for the remainder of the games against Norfolk.
  • Injuries, injuries, injuries – Two of the Justin’s are out of the lineup.  Soryal, for the season, and Krueger, until his hand heals.  Neither Justin is an offensive point-scoring dynamo, but their presence on the ice and in the room may be taking its toll more than we realize.  Krueger has the highest +/- rating on the team with a 13, and nine points (1G, 8A).  He’s been the most consistent defenseman in my opinion, in the truest sense of the word DEFENSEman.  Soryal was a -5 and had 10 points (4G, 6A), and lead team in PIMs with 165 prior to his season-ending knee injury.
  • Jeff Daniels – Is it the coach?  Systems in Raleigh continue to evolve under head coach Kirk Muller, but the Checkers have maintained the same style of play as always, which was one that mimicked Paul Maurice’s systems he used with the Hurricanes.
  • Spring Weather – It’s hard to focus during the month of March on anything other than the amazing weather, warm sunshine, and summer on the horizon.  Barbecues, pool parties and golf all take away focus.  Maybe it’s been too tempting to the players.
  • Speaking of parties… was the team hungover from the bar crawl on Saturday in Charlotte? The ironic thing here is that I’m told the Admirals really did take part in the St. Paddy’s day green shirt wearing bar crawl, and there was an incident of drunk Admirals players being thrown out of their hotel lobby late late Saturday night/Sunday morning, prior to a matinee game that saw the Ads demolish the Checkers 5-0. Yikes.
  • Hurricanes bleak playoff outlook.  Let’s be real… the ‘Canes aren’t going to make the post season.  It would be great, but it’s not going to happen this year.  Is this affecting the AHL club?  Are there disgruntled players on the Charlotte team who are frustrated they aren’t in the NHL?  Are they disgruntled that they won’t have the chance to be Black Aces for the Hurricanes?  I believe all are possibilities.
So is there a right or wrong answer to what is ailing the team?  I don’t think so.  My guess is it’s a lot of things.  So Chasing Checkers readers – what are your thoughts?  What’s got to give to get back to winning ways?  Backseat coach with me… you know you want to.
The most amusing answer as to what is ailing the team will “win” two tickets to one of the remaining home games (of your choosing) courtesy of yours truly.
Let’s Go Checkers

2 thoughts on “Frustration – A Charlotte Checkers editorial

  1. Went to fridays and last nights game. We just never showed up friday. It looked like an NHL vs ECHL team game. Last night was far better but still very sloppy on the defensive end. And peters laying on his belly for there 2nd goal that the checkers never recovered from they seem unfocused or uninterestred leadership in the locker room may be to blame coaching or players like soryal could be an issue at this point or it may even been one of the rare time not just a player or two are cold but an entire team gets in a funk its hard to have team chemistry when so many guys are in and out of the lineup any given night to me thats what i think the issue is and its catching up to many key outs being called up or injured and guys coming in to fill in just are not cutting it our D seems to be the most affected they look awful out side of sangs lets just hope they get out of the funk and get hot at the right time for a playoff run

  2. In my opinion as an avid hockey fan, seems that with all the talented players, we should be in a much better position… It is the lack of true coaching that I feel is missing… These players need to know there are consequences for not winning, or let’s face it not even playing. If it is not a team effort, we will never get back to winning. The teams that have beat the pants off us lately move and pass like one unit… Quick and efficient. I am appalled that we have so many optional skates and these guys don’t bother to show up and work on these basic skills. They need strength and consistency that I dont believe Daniels could even begin to explain… And to reiterate the goaltending situation – Peters may have played well in Raleigh, but he must not like Charlotte very much – sad too because Charlotte is his only way back to Raleigh and if I were to make the choice, he would never go up but instead go DOWN and let Muse who has kicked butt for the Checkers take back the net!

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