Jordan Takes It All In

Friday, 02.15.2013 / 7:00 PM
Michael Smith

Michal Jordan was walking to breakfast with Justin Peters Thursday morning in Chicago, in advance of the Charlotte Checkers’ morning skate.

Jordan looked at his cell phone. He had a missed call from head coach Jeff Daniels.

“I was kind of freaking out,” he recalled. “The thing that first came to my mind was that I got traded or something.”

He tried to call Daniels back but couldn’t reach him. So, he rushed to the rink.

“When I got there, the equipment guys started calling my name,” Jordan said. “I was like, ‘What’s going on here today?’”

Jordan went to the coaches’ office where Daniels relayed the news: He had a flight out of Chicago in an hour, en route to Raleigh. He had gotten his first NHL call-up.

His bag had already been packed. They weren’t sure if Jordan would play, but he’d at least take warmups at PNC Arena.

Getting the promotion to Carolina was the latest accomplishment in what has been a banner season for the 22-year-old Czech-born defenseman.

On Jan. 28, Jordan (and Peters) started for the Western Conference in the AHL All-Star Classic in Providence, R.I. The West, coached in part by Daniels, emerged victorious, 7-6.

“You see the best players from around the league that are on different teams,” Jordan said. “You know them on the ice, but it was great to meet them off the ice. Different personalities, different countries. It was fun.”

A week prior to the Classic, Jordan found out he was named a first-time All-Star in similar fashion to how he received the recall news.

“I got to the rink, and JD was like, ‘Mike, Petey. Come to my office,’” he recalled, the worst possible scenario again popping into his head. “I was like, ‘God, what’s going on?’”

He responded in a game that night by potting two goals, his first career multi-goal game. He added three goals in the following eight games, notching nearly a third of his AHL career goal output (14) in just over three weeks.

“I felt really good before Christmas. It just carried over into the next year,” he said. “It was just the right timing.”

Jordan’s recent performance made him a top recall candidate, even with Marc-Andre Gragnani, who has 73 games of NHL experience, in the mix.

With Joni Pitkanen and Tim Gleason both sidelined with lower-body injuries, the Hurricanes needed a reliable body to round out their group of six for Thursday’s game against Toronto.

That’s when Jordan got the call. Since then, he said he’s received countless congratulatory text messages from family, friends, former coaches and teammates, and he shares the accomplishment with them.

“It’s a big success for everyone who had a part,” he said.

Jordan checked into his Raleigh hotel at 3:30 Thursday afternoon, just a few hours from puck drop. He had time for a quick shower before catching a ride to the rink with Drayson Bowman and Bobby Sanguinetti.

Though he didn’t get any advice from Checkers teammates who had been called up to the big club (he only saw three players before rushing back to the Chicago hotel and then to the airport), assistant coach Dave Lewis told him to simply have fun. Jay Harrison also offered up a piece of wisdom for his fellow defenseman.

“Smell it. Watch it. Taste it. Enjoy it,” Jordan said Harrison told him.

And did he?

“It was awesome,” he said with a big smile, even after a night in which he admits he didn’t get much sleep. “I was tired, but I was moving around the bed. Switching sides. I still couldn’t believe it.”

Jordan logged 12:18 of ice time, all at even strength, in his NHL debut, as he played alongside Sanguinetti, a pairing that seemed comfortable and was effective. Head coach Kirk Muller noted the steady, strong play of the defense, Jordan included, after the game.

"Jordan played really well. That’s a big step – your first game up at this level coming from the minors,” he said. “I thought our six were pretty solid back there.”

Making the night even more special was the fact that Jordan’s wife and four-year-old son were in attendance.

“It was great to see that they were kind of part it too,” he said. “They’ll be back tomorrow (Saturday), so we’re going to get some time together and enjoy it.”

Canes head coach Kirk Muller said Friday that Pitkanen and Gleason, both day-to-day, will not make the trip with the team to Montreal.

Jordan’s stay with the Canes, once thought to perhaps only be fleeting, will now last a little longer, it seems. And he’ll be on one of hockey’s premier stages Monday night.

“It’s been a great ride the last couple of months,” he said.

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