7 in 7: Lucky 7

The Hamburglar is a real thing and you can’t stop him. Devan Dubnyk makes you want to become a Wild fan and I’m officially pulling for the Panthers to make the playoffs because they are the little engine than can!

1. The 30 in 30 Season Ticket Holder Renewal prizes have been awesome! From winning a lunch date with GM Ron Francis to sounding the siren before a home game, the lucky people who win one of these are going to remember it forever! Derek and Susan Caldwell won the trip to join the team in Columbus last week and they have a great story! After a win in Ohio, coach Peters cut video in our broadcast that showed the couple in the stands at Nationwide Arena and went back to show them as the plane was landing, as Susan was watching, she didn’t hold her salad tight enough and her plate of food dumped everywhere. Luckily everyone was safe and stain free. We all left the plane laughing!


2.  Jorge Alves was filling in when Cam Ward was out with his illness.  It’s really amazing what this guy can do.  He came to NC thanks to the military.  He played on the club hockey team while attending NC STate, then played in the SPHL, ECHL being a part-time equipment manager for minor league teams.  Just 3 years ago he became a full-time employee for the Canes.  He is an incredible person to be around.  Always happy, helpful and hilarious! He can literally do anything- from sewing to stopping NHL shots.  I’ve got more on him later…

3. The Canes’ Alumni Game is a weekend like no other! There were 12 non-alumni participants that returned from past years to donate to the Kids N’ Community Foundation and play with familiar faces. New to this year’s event for former players were Sergei Samsonov, Nic Wallin, Stu Grimson and Steve Smith. As for the fans who got to play, what a bunch! Paul Lawson came all the way from Scotland and when telling his friends he would be making the trip to the states to play, he had a little fun with his friends, with a “wee” bit of the stretch of the truth, telling them he would be ‘playing for an NHL team.’ One of the goaltenders this year, who just graduated from James Madison got to play in the game as a graduation present from his parents. 11-10 final and a ton of fun!


4. The HAMBURGLAR has become quite the story this season. Andrew Hammond earned this nickname during his time at Bowling Green when his teammates said he would ‘steal’ them wins. He won 9-straight starts and that earned him respect around the league and got him free local McDonald’s for life! I had to ask- the 27-year-old said he takes lettuce, mustard, ketchup and cheese on his burger! ha!

5. My first 10k was a success! Steve Smith and I ran 6.2 miles in under 56 minutes, beating our training pace. He’s a great motivator and filled with so much good energy that you HAVE to keep the pace to hear his great stories. Onto a half marathon now!


6. Danny Biega made his NHL debut in his hometown, Montreal. Bell Centre was where he grew up going to games and he even played a tournament there. In 2010, at the scouting combine he topped the 150 prospects in the fitness testing. Even then, he was getting questioned about whether he was a ‘hockey player’ or simply a ‘Ivy league student.’ He played 4 years at Harvard and even played a game on the SAME power play with 2 of his brothers! He said the doubts people had about his start make getting to the NHL that much more satisfying. Love it!

7. Congrats to John Forslund on 20 years in the booth! He has such a big impact in the Canes’ organization. Always prepared and always bringing his A game.  Here’s our pre game show producer, Chad, imitating John with sideburn, black hair, glasses and all!image1


7 in 7: Number 6

Can you believe there’s only a month left in the regular season?  Will Boston make the cut?  How hard can the Panthers and Senators push to the finish line?  There will be some great games in the next few weeks.

1. It was Military Appreciation Day at PNC Arena for the Canes and Oilers game. The talon robot was pretty cool. It acts a a set of eyes, ears, and hands for troops. One of the best parts of the night was interviewing Joe Liles, brother of John-Michael Liles, who will be re-stationed to Hawaii. This was the last game he got to enjoy with his family. How perfect!

Military Day

2. Rasmus Rissanen made his NHL debut! He had 8 hits in his first game and said he even surprised himself with that (team-high) number. He said adjusting to the speed was the biggest adjustment from the AHL to the NHL. His parents flew in for the week all the way from Finland. They said they hardly got any sleep because almost as soon as they heard the news of he debut, they had a 15-hour plane ride. Rissanen said he had a bunch of family and friends reach out to him, one of them being his junior team’s GM who he was happy to reconnect with.

3. Nick Foligno is trying to make people aware of a procedure that helped to save his daughter. Milana was born October 2013 with a serious heart complication and had a 7-hour experimental surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital that only 13 babes had ever had. She’s happy and healthy now but Foligno said this changed his life and helped him grow a a person and as a player because he said it really puts life in perspective. The coolest part of being a dad was watching Milana see all the ‘firsts’ as a child that we as adults take for granted. She got very excited seeing snow for the first time and put her face in it but then wiggled away. All the small moments make life great!

4. Lindy Ruff has been an NHL coach since 1997. Lots has changed since that year with salary cap, culture, roles, etc. I asked Ruff what he thought has changed the most since his early coaching days, he said he really puts a focus on building individual relationships with each player. If you scratch or bench a player you have to make sure you explain it. Communication with video and our modern minds has changed the game in a lot of ways.

5. Trade Deadline can be exciting and interesting to media and fans, right? Except players have family, and teammates that they leave behind. Very few speak out about the harsh truths of this business but this story is a must-read. Jane Macdougall on her marriage and the messiness of being a hockey with to Kirk McLean.


6. I LOVE this idea for a competition- Following the crazy night when the Panthers had two goalies injured in a game versus the Leafs that created a lot of confusion about who should then dress as a third-string net minder, Florida created the ‘Goal of a Lifetime’ contest.  1,500 contestants submitted their name, tape and bio but the competition has been reduced to 50 hopefuls.  The two finalists will then go head to head in a shootout competition during a Panthers’ intermission and the winner get to practice as the back-up goalie in an upcoming practice, tickets for the rest of the season and some street credit.  How cool?!


7. Some parting words…

Be Present

7 in 7: March 5, Post 5

1. It started as a dare earlier in the season; I was running on a treadmill beside assistant coach Steve Smith and told him I could run farther than him.  I might have the age advantage but there is no doubt that he was a professional athlete and lasted 800 NHL games.  We are running our first 10k on Saturday.  Here’s where you can donate to the Autoimmune Encephalitis Alliance: https://www.crowdrise.com/FlorenceForthSupporters


2. Anton Khudobin has his father visiting Raleigh from Russia. Valeri was a defenseman and for several years he was the equipment manager of a junior team called the ‘Steel Foxes.’  Since the team did not have a designated goalie coach, Valeri worked with the net minders one on one and went over video together.  During his trip to NC, David Marcoux let him into the video  review room with Anton and the two watched the clips together.  Valeri doesn’t speak any English so Anton not only had to keep track of the notes he was getting but also had to be the translator!




3.  We took our last visit to Nassau Coliseum over the weekend. (And what a win that was!)  There’s a POW flag hanging in the rafters and the reason is because the very grounds that the arena stands on were originally ‘Mitchell Field,’ a US Army and Air Force base and I only knew that because our former assistant coach, Dave Lewis (who played for the Islanders) told me about the history.


4.  Jack Hillen is the newest addition to the Canes lineup.  It was a stressful week for anyone, even the non-UFAs, in anticipation of the trade deadline.  Hillen’s story reminds us just how reality doesn’t discriminate against professional athletes. Hillen played against the Canes on Friday at PNC Arena, he found out when he got to the rink in Washington on Saturday morning that he had been traded.  His agent had assured him that there were no conversations about moving him so this was completely unexpected.  Hillen got on a plane at 2pm, landed at 3:15 and got to Nassau Coliseum just in time for a 5pm start. He played with his own skates but had to used a bunch of borrowed gear because of the time crunch.  His wife is pregnant with their third son so even though joining a new team can be stressful, he now will be able to see the birth of his newest family member in May.  He joked that he just wished that he had known he was traded when the Caps were in town to save him some travel.



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5.  I went back in my computer archives and found some old links to work I did when I was just starting as a reporter.  It’s amazing to look back and see how much progress and growing you’ve done.  I was so young, awkward and had no confidence.  Work until your idols become your rivals!




6. I’m puzzled by the things that are not included in curriculums in US schools.  There are no basic personal finance classes required and I’d love to see that change.  In the meantime, share this with the young adults you know.  It’s a good, easy to understand start for first-time savers. 



7. And for some inspiration (and a chuckle….)