Thursday, April 30, 2015

Reactions: Jeff Daniels out as Charlotte Checkers head coach

The only coach the Charlotte Checkers have known since the team joined the American Hockey League will not be back next season.

Hurricanes Executive Vice President and General Manager Ron Francis announced on Thursday that the organization would not be renewing Jeff Daniels’ contract for the 2015-16 season.

Francis said that the decision to part ways with Daniels – who has led the Hurricanes’ AHL affiliate for the last seven seasons – wasn’t one that he took lightly, but that the organization as a whole was looking to build a new foundation.

With a young core of players already in place in Charlotte (Brock McGinn, Trevor Carrick, Phil Di Giuseppe) to go along with 10 draft picks in this year’s draft and nine the following year, Francis said that the organization felt it needed a “new voice and a new direction.”

The Checkers, who will move their home games from Time Warner Cable Arena to the Bojangles’ Coliseum next season, failed to qualify for the playoffs in 2014-15, going 31-38-6-1 to finish 13th in the Western Conference.

Daniels, who plans to stay involved in the game, said that he is going to take few days to wrap his head around things before seeing what his next step will be.

"Every coach has his own style. I don’t know if one is right or not right. It reflects their personality. (Daniels) has been calm, cool, collected and that’s how he coached as well. (Bill) Peters is a bit more fiery. We're looking for ... someone like the coach we have here. Someone to go in there, teach our young kids, make them better, and hold them accountable."  
– Carolina Hurricanes GM Ron Francis.

"It's part of the business and it's never fun. I enjoyed my time in Charlotte. Working for the Checkers organization and Michael Kahn was a great experience. ... I want to stay involved in the game. We'll see what's out there and I'll do what's best for me and my family." -- Former Checkers coach Jeff Daniels. 

Worth mentioning
Daniels has acted as head coach and general manager of the Hurricanes’ AHL affiliate since he took control of the Albany River Rats in 2008. Over that time he registered a 268-225-51 record. … Daniels said that he harbors no hard feelings and that Francis told him “It was just time for a change, a fresh face, fresh message and fresh start.” Francis, in turn, expressed respect for all that Daniels has done for the organization. … According to Francis, the Hurricanes have taken steps towards streamlining not just the same system, but terminology across all levels of their organization and that he expected that to continue going forward.   

What's next?
Francis, citing the current number of big market National Hockey League clubs currently searching for coaches, said that the Hurricanes will likely “let the dust settle” before they make a decision on the Checkers next head coach. While there was initially speculation Hurricanes assistant coach Rod Brind’Amour could be in the running, Francis said this NHL staff would be remaining the same. Director of defensive development, Glen Wesley, is an interesting possibility, as well as current Iowa (AHL) assistant coach Steve Poapst, who has previously coached under Bill Peters. Francis did add that the Hurricanes are happy with the work of Checkers’ current assistant coach Geordie Kinnear and that he will be sitting down with Kinnear sometime next week to discuss where he sees his future in the organization. 

Information from Chip Alexander and Cory Lavalette (twitter) helped with the writing of this story.  

Charlotte Checkers coach Jeff Daniels' contract will not be renewed for 2015-16

per the release...

RALEIGH, NC – Ron Francis, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the contract of Charlotte Checkers Head Coach Jeff Daniels will not be renewed for the 2015-16 season. Daniels had served as the franchise’s American Hockey League head coach for the past seven seasons.  

“We appreciate the years of service and hard work that Jeff provided for our organization,” said Francis.“His contract expires at the end of June, and we will now begin the process of finding a new head coach for the Checkers.”

Daniels registered a 268-225-51 record in seven seasons as head coach for Carolina’s top minor-league affiliates. He guided the Checkers to the Eastern Conference Final in 2010-11, the deepest Calder Cup Playoff run for the franchise’s AHL affiliate since the 1996-97 Springfield Falcons. Charlotte failed to qualify for the playoffs in 2014-15, going 31-38-6-1 to finish 13th in the Western Conference.

Prior to becoming a head coach on the AHL level, Daniels spent four seasons with the Hurricanes as an assistant coach, helping to guide the team to a Stanley Cup championship in 2006. As a player, Daniels appeared in 425 career NHL regular-season games, winning a Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1992, and helping Carolina reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2002.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Game 70: Oklahoma City Barons at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Thursday, 7 p.m.

TV/Radio infoAHL Live / Online

Records: Checkers (28-35-5-1), Barons (37-23-5-3)

The Checkers kicked off their longest and last homestand of the season on a sour note this past weekend, dropping a pair of games to the Lake Erie Monsters. The loss Sunday eliminated the Checkers from American Hockey League playoff contention. They will look to finish the season on a high note starting with games Thursday and Friday against Oklahoma City.

Recent Transactions: none.

Notes: Charlotte finished March with a 7-6 record, making it the first month this season in which it finished with a winning record. … With five goals in his past five games, Checkers center Brody Sutter has doubled his output from the first 36 games of the season. He has seven points during his recent run. … Checkers goalie Drew MacIntyre ranks third in the AHL with 2,690 minutes played and is second with 1,336 saves. His next start for Charlotte will tie the franchise record for single-season games played by a goaltender (48 by Justin Pogge in 2010-11). … Defenseman Josh Wesley, son of Hurricanes legend Glen, has been skating with the Checkers since his season with the Ontario Hockey League’s Plymouth Whalers came to an end last week. It's unknown if Wesley, 18, will play against the Barons. The Hurricanes selected Wesley – a product of the Junior Hurricanes development program – in the fourth round (96th) in the 2014 NHL draft. ... The Barons enter Thursday winless in their last seven games. ... This is the 11th of 12 meetings between the two clubs this season. The Barons have taken seven of the first 10 matchups. ... The Checkers officially announced Kyle Hagel as their "Man of the Year" award winner on Thursday. The award recognizes the player from each team who makes the greatest commitment to charitable organizations and his community. In five full AHL seasons (with five different clubs), Hagel has won the award five times. That pretty much says all you need to know about the kind of guy he is off the ice...

Checkers lines: 

Zach Boychuk-Brody Sutter-Chad LaRose
Brock McGinn-Brendan Woods-Carter Sandlak
Phil Di Giuseppe-Ben Holmstrom-Justin Shugg
Kyle Hagel-Patrick Brown-Jared Staal

Trevor Carrick-Brett Pesce
Dennis Robertson-Keegan Lowe
Austin Levi-Beau Schmitz

Drew MacIntyre
John Muse
Rasmus Tirronen

Healthy scratches: Alex Aleardi, Sean Dolan, Mike Cornell, Josh Wesley

Injured/out: Greg Nemisz (knee)