While having lunch with my best friend and discussing the goaltending situation in Raleigh and Charlotte, we began reminiscing about some of the interesting characters who have played goal in the Hurricanes organization, and since the Checkers are now in need of another goalie, which of those past players could be invited back? Fortunately, Dan Ellis isn’t expected to be out of work for long. Right now, there’s a critical need in Raleigh right now for help between the pipes, which is why John Muse was recalled today by the Hurricanes, and leaves the Checkers one short for tomorrow’s game against Norfolk.
Warning in advance: Please take most of this with the grain of salt that its intended to be taken with.
In alphabetical order, so it doesn’t appear that I’m playing favorites, here are some goalie possibilities for the Checkers and/or Hurricanes:
Nathan Beasley – I’m not sure if he’s ever played goal, but I feel like he’s a pretty quick learner and a hard worker, plus he works out and eats healthy and doesn’t binge on ice cream at Harris Teeter in the middle of the night, so that’s good, right?
Bobby Goepfert – Alex, I’ll take “Fan favorite Checkers goaltenders for $800”. Goepfert spent a season in the Checkers organization, including a stretch in Charlotte. His use of twitter is brilliant, and I’m not sure if any professional athlete has made me laugh more between his Twogs about his fear of flying, and amazing iPhone filmed movie trailers starring himself and his Checkers teammates, I can assure you that Goepfert would add a lot of personality to a team bench. And the good news is he is back in the U.S. for the summer after spending the past two years in Germany.
John Grahame – Though he hasn’t played professionally since he was with the Lake Erie Monsters in the spring of 2011, John Grahame is a former goaltender and fan favorite for the Hurricanes. Last March, he was briefly signed by the New York Islanders to serve as a backup when they were particularly injured, though he never played in a game. He was my favorite in Raleigh because he had surgically enhanced bikini clad girls on his helmet, and an awesome NASCAR theme. I can’t recall how he was in net, but he sure was fun! I believe he’s half of the only mother/son pair to both have their names on the Stanley Cup. His mom is a member of the front office for the Colorado Avalanche, and he won the cup in 2004 with Tampa Bay.
Brian Helms – I know nothing about his resume, but on twitter, he volunteered, so I feel like I’ve got to give him a shot, eh?
Chris Jablonski – Jason Shaya loves to refer to him as a “former goaltender of the Portland Pirates,” and while this is certainly true, the full story is that he was a last minute addition to the team, who when in Charlotte, needed a backup for their backup, who was starting that night after a recall of their number one goalie. Jablonski, at the time, was an intern for the Checkers, and suited up for the visiting team, which is a pretty amazing story for a guy who was getting college credit for working for the team! Regardless, the fact he has actually knows how to play the position and has in fact dressed for an AHL team probably makes him a more viable candidate than Beasley (Sorry buddy, personally you’d be my first choice!)
Mike Murphy – The good news is, he’s practiced with the team a couple of times in the past week. He’s also the winningest goaltender in the history of the Checkers, the reason the Checkers made it to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2011, and one of my favorite people on the planet. He had a tough season in the KHL, but I have more confidence in Murph than just about any professional athlete I’ve met, and if he and the team feel he’s ready to be back, then I say #PutMurphIn
Justin Pogge – I never thought they day would come that I campaigned to bring him back, but here it is. Hands down, Pogge was one of the most entertaining characters during his season in Charlotte, from the “Justin Pogge has lost his mind” game in Hershey, to the charisma he exhibited on and off the ice, I’d love to have him back in Charlotte just because he makes me smile. Also, good news on the Pogge front, his season in Italy finished in January. For what it’s worth, Pogge’s numbers this season in Italy were the best of his professional career.
Jason Shaya – Many years ago, I saw him dress in a game for the Checkers, so I know it’s a possibility, especially with the posse of interns and color guys he has accumulated that could cover for him. I’d bid on his jersey at the end of the year!
Tripp Tracy – He likes to bill himself as a former professional goaltender, but his statistics are limited to two seasons in the ECHL and six games in the AHL, however six starts is better than nothing, even if they were 15 years ago. I’m sure he could keep the bus rides entertaining with his stories about texting Jared Staal’s parents and all of the other celeb hockey players he texts regularly. The good news is Tracy is close by in Raleigh, and just a phone call away!
Bits and pieces:
- Though I will miss seeing him in Chalotte, congrats to Riley Nash for another call up to the Hurricanes in Raleigh, especially since he’s one of 15 healthy forwards on the roster there.
- It will be great to see Zach Boychuk back in a Checkers sweater. Though I’m sure he’d rather be playing in the NHL I’m confident that with the right grit and determination, he’ll get there.
- My whole family is coming into town for the game tomorrow night! My niece and nephews are huge Checkers fans, and can’t wait. This is an especially exciting game because my brother and sister in law who live in Madagascar, Africa are here and seeing their first hockey game in well over a year.