So… a few questions before I begin. Click the REPLY button at the end of this post, and answer the following:
- What was your own personal Checkers highlight of 2012?
- What was your Checkers low point of 2012?
- What do you want to see the team do better in 2013? On the ice? Off the ice? How can this translate into a “New Year’s Resolution”?
New Year’s Eve 2012… Everyone comes up with New Year resolutions this time of year. The only one I can recall from last year was to not buy a new hockey jersey in 2012.. well, I broke that. It took me until December 22, but I bought a pretty incredible jersey that will be a welcome addition to my closet. Since I haven’t gotten it yet, maybe I can say I didn’t break the resolution since it’ll be the first full week of 2013 before I get it??
Here are my answers to the questions I have for all of you:
Checkers Highlights from 2012:
- My personal Checkers highlight was most definitely the roadtrips I was fortunate to take last season. I visited all of the Midwest cities at least once, and even made a bonus trip to Milwaukee just to see some New Year’s Day hockey last year. I got to meet awesome people along the way, and drink delicious craft beer in Wisconsin and Illinois. Seeing how other cites do hockey, from a business and fan entertainment perspective, is pretty fascinating. Some cities do it really well. Others… well… I’m glad we have the Checkers in Charlotte because it would be more challenging to be a fan in some of the markets.
- Taking my nephew to his first-ever hockey game last January. For his 7th birthday, I bought his whole family tickets, and they still talk about it, and how there was REAL BLOOD on the game won jersey I loaned to their dad. Sharing with my family something I’m passionate about was pretty special, and I’m excited to say I’m buying them all tickets again for his 8th birthday! He gets to bring his almost-four year old brother this time, so I look forward to encouraging another young hockey fan!
- As for a specific game in recent history, the Checkers shootout win over Houston earlier this season where two defenseman made it possible with a late in the game tying goal from Justin Faulk, and a shootout winner from Justin Krueger. It was a great night to be a Checkers fan!
Checkers moments from 2012 I never want to relive:
- Can I just list “The month of February”? The end of last season was tough to watch. The drive home from Milwaukee in April was pretty abysmal, too. It inspired my “Five Stages of Checkers Grief” theory, which I still think is one of my best pieces of writing.
- May 22, when I heard the news that Mike Murphy had decided to sign a deal in the KHL. In all of my years following this sport, no player has impacted me as personally as Murph did, and I still miss him every night I set foot in TWCA!
- The team’s losing streak from earlier this month. Talk about a painful series of games in Charlotte!
What can the team do better:
- Consistency on the ice. It also goes without saying that the players, the coaching decisions, and how the larger Hurricanes organization treats each situation could use a dose of consistency as well. Why does Justin Faulk not play 3-in-3s, but all of his teammates do? What is special about Faulk, but not about Drayson Bowman, Zac Dalpe or any of the other highly touted prospects? The Checkers can be the toughest in the league one moment, and flat the next. I’m glad I’m not a coach or GM, because I’m at a loss on how to fix it
- Improve attendance at home games. Is it the losing home record that’s keeping people away? Or is the lack of fan support and an electric environment affecting the home ice advantage? What about the stagnant feel some games have as far as in-game entertainment is concerned? There is a definite lack of anything new at the games other than new uniforms for the Checkmates… promo activities are the same, videoboard clips are the same… even the poor song choices after the home team allows a goal are the same. Last year, the Checkers were 8th in the league. They currently sit in, 13th. Attendance is down an average of 1254 people PER GAME… that’s 19% less than they had last year at games. In a season with no NHL, it was expected that AHL teams would see a 10-30% INCREASE. What is wrong in Charlotte?
- If I say my biggest Checkers New Years resolution is a Calder Cup, am I jinxing it? I hope not, cause it’s out there now!
Now that I’ve shared my thoughts, what are some of your highs, lows and Checkers resolutions for 2013?