I spent the morning at the Extreme Ice Center in Indian Trail watching the Checkers morning practice. For the second day in a row, Mike Murphy skated with the team as a third goalie, and spent a great deal of time working with Hurricanes goaltending coach Tom Barrasso. For a guy who hasn’t played a pro game in over four months, I was impressed with Murphy’s on-ice work. I think he’d be a huge asset to the Checkers, especially during this playoff push, but at the same time, I hope he isn’t rushed before he is ready. He still needs time, but as all Checkers fans who are familiar with Murphy’s experience and work ethic, I know he can do it.
Yesterday, in his Ten Thoughts, Jason Shaya mentioned that the Hurricanes are
reportedly looking for reinforcements for the Checkers, which is reassuring considering until this point, it seems they have left Derek Wilkinson and the Checkers to find their own reinforcements, most of whom are ECHLers with little or no AHL or NHL experience. While many have already contributed in great ways (Matt Marquadt comes to mind, in particular) what Charlotte really needs is some NHL caliber talent, either in the form of an up-and-coming prospect, or an NHL veteran trying to get back into the majors. The Checkers currently have 11 injuries, if you include Zac Dalpe and Justin Soryal, though the former is on the verge of returning. They have 5 healthy defensemen, and 11-12 healthy forwards, depending on how you count them.
As I was watching the Checkers skate this morning, I got the official word that the Texas Stars had signed an NHL veteran to a PTO by the name of Mike Commodore. With a Stanley Cup ring, NCAA Championship, and IIHF Gold Medal, he brings a lot of experience to an already brutal Stars team. I’d be kidding if I said I didn’t wish the Hurricanes organization hadn’t jumped on that veteran first, but kudos for the Stars for getting a great veteran blueliner. This is the kind of player I hope the Checkers can get, and I firmly believe it’s what they need right now. They need grit and experience to fill out their roster.
Odds and ends:
- Former Checkers goaltenders continue to shine in Raleigh. Justin Peters recently had a shutout, and Dan Ellis made 40 saves in a loss last night against Florida, with a shortened Canes bench in front of him. Justin Faulk left the game in the second period and didn’t return, Bobby Sanguinetti took a skate to the face and received 13 stitches, and Tim Gleason missed a portion of the game as well to receive 16 stitches after a high stick to the face by Panther Scottie Upshall.
- This morning, the Hurricanes announced that Justin Faulk will be out for 2-4 weeks with an MCL sprain. Brett Bellemore was recalled from the Checkers, which will require recall TO the Checkers as well. Currently, from what I can tell, the only defenseman under contract with the Hurricanes and not currently with the Canes or Checkers is Joe Sova, who played with the Reading Royals and San Francisco Bulls this season. Keegan Lowe, Ryan Murphy and Austin Levi are all Canes prospects under contract, but are all but still playing in Major Junior.
- Zac Dalpe took part in a full practice this morning with the Checkers. They leave later today for a short road trip to Texas.
- AJ Jenks, who suffered a wrist fracture in January, was still wearing a yellow no-contact jersey, but looks extremely close to returning, and was skating at full speed throughout the practice.