The vibes were immaculate for the Seattle Kraken Saturday morning, as they took the ice at Kraken Community Iceplex in preparation for their game against the Detroit Red Wings. It was a mostly full house for the skate anyway, as players, coaches, and families participating in the Can/Am youth hockey tournament at KCI looked on. But in addition to the Can/Am participants, Kraken players saw some familiar faces watching from behind the plexiglass; their dads.
For the first time, Seattle has invited the team’s fathers and mentors to watch the Kraken play at home Saturday, and they will then go on the road trip to San Jose this week. The Kraken would have had an event like this last season, but it got nixed because of COVID restrictions.
The presence of the VIP guests elevated the mood in the dressing room to an all-time high. In a clever move by Kraken PR, Jordan Eberle, Matty Beniers, and Morgan Geekie addressed the media alongside their fathers, Darren, Bob, and Craig. Hilarity ensued, as did plenty of poetic waxing and expressions of pride from the papas as they beamed talking about their respective sons.
You can learn a lot about an NHL player by talking to his dad. Darren Eberle (great name), for example, divulged that his son is an aspiring musician. “You might not know that he thinks he’s a good guitar player,” the elder Eberle joked. “But the worst part about it is he’s learning to sing. I play guitar, so that’s the one thing I’m actually better than him at is guitar. And so I like to rub that in.”
Craig Geekie and his son connect through video games, a passion Morgan has shared publicly in the past. We knew Morgan was a stellar Mario Kart player, but we didn’t know his talent carries over to Call of Duty as well. “If it was CoD, because him and I play CoD with each other, I might say he’s a little bit better in CoD than he is in Mario Kart,” said Craig. “But I could be way off.”
“I think that’s saying how good I am at CoD,” Morgan joked.
Craig also shared that Morgan “Is turning into a pretty decent mechanic. How’s that? He’s fixing up his Jeep, which I’m pretty proud of.”
The Geekie’s also talked about how Morgan got his big slapshot, which Morgan said Craig wouldn’t let him use until he was 13 years old. “His shot, for whatever reason— it must take after his mum, for sure, in terms of his shot. Because he always had a really exceptional shot growing up, and I had a lot of people say that he was kind of above his years.”
Growing up with dad as the coach
Most hockey players can recall different memories from riding home from games with their parents and how the interactions would go on those rides.
“Depends how [the game] went,” said Morgan Geekie. Before he could continue, Craig jumped in. “Come on, I wasn’t that bad!” he said, defending himself. “There was a couple ultimatums in there,” quipped Morgan.
All three of Beniers, Geekie, and Eberle were coached by their respective fathers at some point as kids, and they all had unique perspectives to share about that relationship.
“He said I was the toughest coach ever,” said Darren Eberle. “He said ‘you benched me more than any of my coaches ever.’” Jordan corroborated what his father said. “He was probably one of the harder coaches on me. A lot of coaches would play me more; he would bench me if I wasn’t playing well.”
Bob Beniers coached Matty for 10 years, and over that time, Matty recalled Bob driving him all over the East Coast of the United States and beyond. “Canada, Buffalo, all these different places, and we were like 10,” said Matty. “Looking back on it, it’s pretty awesome that he was able to do that, but it all worked out, and it was a lot of fun.”
Bob knows he’s not Matty’s coach anymore, but he’s still very much along for the ride. “No, he’s on his own now. But it’s been fun. It’s been fun to watch his short experience here. It’s been a great organization so far and great coaching.”
Bob Beniers admitted that watching his 20-year-old son play in the NHL makes him a lot more nervous than when he was his youth coach.
Reaching the NHL is a long, hard journey
All three of the dads who met with media were visibly proud for their sons, who have worked so hard to get to the NHL. Interestingly, while the Beniers family saw Matty growing into a star player, Bob said they never talked about him making it to the world’s best league.
“We never talked about him playing professional hockey,” Bob said. “We only talked about him going to college and playing hockey in college. So this is an amazing treat, and he’s earned it, so I’m very proud of him.”
Craig Geekie gave us a glimpse behind the curtain about what it has taken for Morgan to reach this level. “Everybody from the outside always sees it as a pretty glamorous opportunity, right?” Craig said. “They don’t see the daily struggles. Whether it’s mental, whether it’s physical, whether it’s— you know, there’s so much stuff behind the scenes I just don’t think everybody sees on how hard it is to get here.”
A special experience for the coach, too
Coach Dave Hakstol has his father-in-law, Tim O’Keefe, on the trip, and the event is special for Hakstol as well. “It’s an awesome opportunity,” he said. “I mean, there’s a ton of new energy that comes in when dads and family members are here.” It’s O’Keefe’s first opportunity to do a trip like this, so Hakstol says he’s thrilled and happy to have him around.
We somewhat jokingly asked Hakstol if he was able to immediately connect any of the visiting fathers with their sons, even before being introduced. “What, are you trying to get me in trouble here?” Hakstol joked. “No, there’s some pretty neat personalities, though. I can tell you that. It’s been a couple hours here… You get them into this environment where everybody is here, you start to see some of the personalities come out. That’ll be one of the neat things throughout the weekend as it develops and as guys spend more and more time together.”
Hakstol was also asked why his father-in-law didn’t join him when he addressed the media. “Because I would not get one word in,” said Hakstol with a wry grin.
Its so nice that Judy and I know Morgan and Craig personally and grew up in the
same town as Morgan. We stream every game we can and have some very late nights when games start at 10:00 or 10:30 EST. Our shot count is at 222. Morgan would understand.
What an outstanding gesture by the Seattle Kraken Hockey Club!! #LGK