An Interview with Charlotte Checkers’ Mike Lappan


It’s a funny thing, I actually met the Checkers’ Director of Public and Media Relations, not in Charlotte, but in Cleveland, Ohio. I was there to cheer on the Checkers as they faced the Lake Erie Monsters in a weekend double-header. Mr. Lappan graciously accepted my overzealous hug and I liked him even more when I discovered his has family in Ohio not far from my own.

We won’t reminisce how that weekend played out for the Checkers.

The positive takeaway here is that Mike agreed to do an interview with me. So, please enjoy a little insight look at our Charlotte Checkers…

KP Kelly: How did you come to be the Director of Public and Media Relations with the Checkers? Where did you work previously?

Mike Lappan: I worked for Checkers COO Tera Black in San Diego with the Gulls (intern in 2003 and then full-timer from 2005-06) and she hired me to work for the Checkers as they moved from ECHL to AHL. Before that, I worked in the ECHL’s hockey operations department (2006-08) and was an intern for the Hamilton Bulldogs during the NHL lockout in 2004-05.

KP: Very cool! Can you tell me about a typical day in the Checkers’ office?

ML: I usually start my day with a cup of Tim Horton’s coffee, the Charlotte Observer, and a quick look at our Twitter account and Facebook page. From there, it’s anyone’s guess. We work on a lot of different projects in any given week.

KP: Where can we find you on a game day?

ML: Up on the riser above section 114 with Paul Branecky and Pat Kelly (ECHL co-founder and current part-time AHL supervisor. And fellow Ontarian). That and running back and forth between the off-ice officials table and the video review room downstairs.

KP: Besides the Hurricanes, what NHL team do you cheer for?

ML: I don’t cheer for any particular team but my favorite teams to watch are the Red Wings, Kings, Flyers, and Canes. Mostly because of styles of play and certain players who are exciting to watch: Richards, Datsyuk, Skinner, Giroux, etc.

KP: I’m sorry, I lost you at “Skinner.” (Deep breath, focus…) If you could describe the Charlotte Checkers in one word, what would it be?

ML: Fun

KP: What is the best thing about working with the Checkers?

ML: No one best thing in particular. Hockey all the time, our owner Michael Kahn, location of our offices, co-workers, and the office culture.

KP: What would you say is the one thing fans don’t know about the Checkers?

ML: That’s a tough one. How about that Evel Knievel played for the 50s version of the Checkers.

KP: That’s me, asking the tough questions. I’m like Barbara freaking Walters over here. What was your favorite memory from this season?

ML: Forest’s van. Hands down. (You may read that article on the Checkers’ website )

Interview pause! Forest Walton is diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and if you follow me on Twitter, you know I lost my buddy Cameron to DMD in October. Please educate yourself on this disease and consider supporting the Muscular Dystrophy Association or Parent Project. Thank you!

KP: Who are you rooting for in the Kelly and Calder Cup playoffs?

ML: Kelly Cup – Florida. Calder Cup – I’d have to say Norfolk. Mostly because any championship in this neck of the woods is good for the growth of hockey, and that streak was something crazy.

KP: Hum, don’t care for Norfolk Mike, but ok. (Go Marlies!) What can fans expect from the Checkers next season?

ML: More of the same action and entertainment at games. We have a lot of new things planned and though the early exit stung pretty badly, we have more time to get ready for 2012-13.

KP: Speaking of more of the same…how do you feel about Blanchard and Sanguinetti’s new ink? How important were those new contracts to the Checkers/Canes organization?

ML: I’m really happy to see Bobby and Blanch back in the system. Both are great guys and hope they get a shot with the big club. They’re very important – Bobby is a great puck-moving, offensive defenseman and everyone wants a guy like Blanchard on their team.

KP: What advice would you give to those looking to make a career in sports public relations?

ML: Keep at it. Always try to gain more experience and improve your body of work. Network. And, be nice to your parents 🙂

Well, on that excelllent piece of advice…thank you so much Mike! Caniacs are so proud of the whole Checkers organization! We wait on bated breath for next season! Let’s Go Checkers!

Be sure to give Mr. Lappan a follow on Twitter at @MikeLappan, and while you’re on there, check out the Cardiac Cane crew: @CardiacCaneFS, @Esbee92, @Caniac176 and @CaniacCaz.