Michal Jordan doesn't mind being teased about his name, especially in North Carolina, but his hockey career is no joking matter.
When the Carolina Hurricanes assigned Jordan to the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL out of preseason training camp, the defenseman was disappointed. When the Canes recalled Jordan from the Checkers on Nov. 10, didn't play him and quickly sent him back, that was another disappointment.
But Jordan is getting a chance to play for the Canes now and making the most of it. When Carolina traded defenseman Jay Harrison on Thursday to the Winnipeg Jets, it was further confirmation the team believes Jordan deserves to stay in the NHL.
"We said when we brought him up we wanted to give him a good look," Canes coach Bill Peters said Thursday after a 4-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. "We've given him a good look and we've liked what we've seen."
Jordan, 24, had a season-high 17 minutes, 36 seconds of ice time against the Leafs and finished with two hits and two blocked shots. Paired with veteran Tim Gleason, he helped shackle a team that had won six straight and led the NHL in scoring.
"I think I had a pretty good (training) camp but that's behind me now," Jordan said. "I'm really happy to have a chance to play more minutes and more games. Obviously it's a different game and I have to improve every day because it's a different style of hockey in the NHL.
"I hope it's going to stay this way. I think maybe at the start of the season I didn't feel as good as I feel right now. I thought I was ready. Right now I feel pretty good about myself but you can't take days off in the NHL or shifts off. It's about every shift you have to be focused."
A native of the Czech Republic, Jordan spent nearly all of the past four seasons with the Checkers, the Canes' AHL affiliate. He played in the 2013 AHL All-Star Classic - also getting into five Hurricanes games in the 2012-2013 season - and last season had career highs in assists (21) and points (25).
The Checkers' games are at Charlotte's Time Warner Cable Arena, home of the Hornets, the NBA team owned by Michael Jordan.
Yes, the hockey player has heard every conceivable joke about the basketball superstar and how the name "should" be pronounced. He always has been good-natured about it, perhaps knowing there was no way to avoid it in Charlotte.
Or Raleigh. At a Canes practice a few weeks ago, Peters, a former Detroit Red Wings assistant, shouted to Jordan, "I'm the only one who can say they coached both Nick Lidstrom and Michal Jordan."
Peters intentionally used the North Carolina, His Airness version of the name, getting a few laughs.
Until his Nov. 25 call-up, Jordan said he worked closely with Checkers assistant coach Geordie Kinnear on being more versatile and effective in the defensive zone.
"The biggest thing was they told me they wanted me to play on the right side," said Jordan, a left-handed shooter. "I'd never really played on the right side. Playing 25-plus minutes in Charlotte on the right side obviously was going to help me a lot.
"I got really comfortable on that side. Now if coaches want me on the left side or the right side it doesn't really matter. I can adjust really quickly and that can help me in the future, too."
Jordan, who has yet to notch his first NHL point, also has been paired with Ron Hainsey and John-Michael Liles in addition to Gleason. He's been on the ice against such NHL stars as Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Steven Stamkos of Tampa Bay and Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals.
Jordan's first game after the call-up was Nov. 26 against the Florida Panthers, and he said he was a bit heavy-legged in the road game.
"From there I got better and I feel more comfortable every day," he said. "The practices help me a lot, too. It's been good so far. I've got the confidence I can play on this level."
And, for the record, MIH-kahl yohr-DAHN is the proper pronunciation.