Friday, January 22, 2010

The end of a busy week

Sorry it took me so long to get a blog up this week. The 2010 Sprint Cup Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway kept the sports team running all week long. Props to Tim Baier for his hard work this week (I was with him too, but he handled night side events while I was show building and such). Now that I have made my excuses (lol), on to the blog.
  • So much to talk about from the Media Tour, and not enough space to do it all justice. Rules changes should make for some interesting times between the green and checkered flags. Spoiler coming back, a bigger restrictor plate at Daytona and Talladega, bump-drafting being allowed, and so on. Personally, and this should come as a shock, I am thinking a Hendrick driver will win the title in 2010. Jimmie Johnson is, of course, the favorite, but I can't help but think this might be Dale Earnhardt, Jr's year. A year ago he had the look of a guy that was really enjoying his new surroundings. The year went horribly, and with changes and a dedication to getting that #88 team up to speed, I viewed Junior as a guy that likes his surroundings, and has a new resolve to live up to the expectations. He didn't come out and say that, but he has a different look about him. I won't lie--NASCAR is more interesting when he is a factor. I'll be pulling for him to have a big season.
  • The Charlotte Bobcats are rolling. Wow, are they fun to watch. If in fact they are trying to sell the team, they could get a great price. Attention fans: this team is making the playoffs, barring something ridiculous. Get on board now--there is plenty of room on the bandwagon.
  • Carolina Panthers have yet to hire a Special Teams coach, but they did bring in Tyke Tolbert to coach the wide receivers. The recently retired Richard Williamson had been on every Panthers coaching staff, so Tolbert has some big shoes to fill. No question he has a marquee player to work with, but he has to get the understudies up to snuff. If that involves Muhsin Muhammad, so be it. The Panthers could do worse. Moose is a known commodity, but I hope the deep post route to Moose is used less often in 2010. Just saying.
  • Tar Heel fans--step away from the sharp objects. Seriously. I can not believe the amount of potential bridge-jumpers that back the powder blue. Yes, the Heels are struggling, but they are banged up, missing key guys, and have lost to teams that view UNC as their national championship opponent. I do not think UNC is good enough to reach the Final Four (as it is now, I don't the ACC has a Final Four squad anywhere), but the thought of an NCAA tourney without Carolina, to me, is flat out stupid. If they continue to spiral out of control, then maybe, but I have enough faith in Roy Williams and his players, that they will get things moving in the right direction. Let the season play out, people.
  • News coming out of Raleigh and Albany is that the Carolina Hurricanes top minor league affiliate could be relocating to Charlotte. Nothing set in stone, but in the end, the Charlotte Checkers could be affiliated with the Hurricanes, and moving into the American Hockey League. I don't know what that does for the current Checkers staff, and I am hopeful the changes are non-existent, but that's not a call I can make. In the end, the product will be better on the ice, as the AHL teams send players to the NHL, and not another minor league affiliate. The AHL would be a step up from the ECHL in terms of product on the ice, but I can't say it will be better in terms of the relationship to the community. The Checkers have been wonderful to the Charlotte area in their time--that's something no one should forget, or take for granted.
  • Speaking of hockey, Carolina Hurricanes fans, fret not about the switch of captains. Rod Brind'Amour, one of the classiest and dedicated hockey players the NHL has ever known, had the opportunity to retain the "C" when the subject came uip earlier this week. Being the guy he is, the leader he is, and someone who senses that his career is winding down, did not fight it. He remains a captain of the team, wearing the "A" as alternate. Eric Staal is ready for the duties and responsibilities that come with wearing the "C". Don't loko at the Hurricanes as classless, or out to lunch on this one. The move was going to come at some point, be it mid-season or afterwards. Given the tough campaign the Hurricanes have had, this kind of news is more of a signal of changing times, and not a show of dislike for Brind'Amour. To me, the guy is a Hall of Fame center. The time simply had come to look to the future. Let me ask this of Hurricanes fans: would the organization be classless if they traded Brind'Amour to a Stanley Cup contender around the deadline? Giving him a chance to win a 2nd title? Before you answer, remember they did the same thing with defenseman Glen Wesley, and center Ron Francis. Your answer should be "no."

That's all I have for now, have a great weekend!

Mike Solarte

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