Beer Update: I am currently giving the High Country Canadian Draft a second taste. I poured from the bottle a little fast and right down the middle of the glass. That generated a good bit of extra head which has really helped reduce the strong taste from the first bottle.
Moving on to another topic, Charlotte, North Carolina is getting a new minor-league hockey team starting next season. At least the team is new to them. The AHL franchise that is currently playing in Albany, New York as the River Rats has been sold and will be relocating to Charlotte. The AHL is similar to Triple-A leagues in professional baseball. The Rats are affiliated with the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes who helped orchestrate the sale and relocation of the team in order to have their AHL affiliate closer to their home in Raleigh, NC.
Of course, the team isn't exactly new to Charlotte since the new team will be taking the name of the city's current ECHL franchise (think Double-A in baseball terms), the Charlotte Checkers. It remains to be seen what will happen with the city's ECHL franchise. The current team owner purchased the River Rats and currently has the ECHL team on the sales block. The team is affiliated with the New York Rangers, so one thought is the team will move north, possibly somewhere in New York state to be closer to the Rangers. One possibility is Utica, NY which has been home of previous minor league teams. Another interesting possibility would be to move the team to Albany which would result Charlotte and Albany having exchanged their hockey franchises. Perhaps, the team could even be renamed the River Rats. However, the city of Albany is busy trying to lure another AHL team to the city.
Back to the new hockey team in Charlotte, I am glad that the ownership elected to maintain the Checkers nickname. However, I am disappointed that the team will still carry the name of Charlotte instead of taking this opportunity to change the name to Carolina. I think it would help differentiate the old ECHL team with the new AHL team. Professional sports teams in the Carolinas need to attract fans from both states. This is particularly true for teams located in the city of Charlotte which is close to the border with South Carolina. An easy way to show that a team represents the whole area instead of a single city is use Carolina as the team name.
I think that could also be applied to the professional basketball team located in Charlotte, the Bobcats. When the city was first awarded an NBA team back in 1988, the Charlotte Hornets were the only game in town. With the excitement of the area's first major-league sports franchise, it really didn't matter what the team was called. However, things changed when the area received a second major-league franchise in 1995. In an effort to attract fans from both states, the new NFL team elected to use the name Carolina instead of Charlotte. The Panthers also decided to hold their training camp in Spartanburg, SC at Wofford College. The team even played their first season in South Carolina at Clemson University.
The Bobcats are in the process of being sold, so perhaps the new ownership will consider changing the name of the team from Charlotte to Carolina. I would like to see the team resurrect the Carolina Cougars from the old ABA. The Bobcats already have Larry Brown as head coach. Brown coached the Cougars back in the 70s. Unfortunately, the term "Cougar" has a negative connotation and is now used in the name of two television shows, one hosted by Vivica A. Fox and the other starring Courteney Cox. Then there is John Mellencamp who has spent years trying to drop "Cougar" from his name. I just mention that because whenever Mr. Mellencamp is coming to town, El wants to buy front-row tickets so she can yell things like "It's the Coug!" just to see if she can get a reaction from Mellencamp.