Kraken sign Donato, jerseys selling like hotcakes – Weekly One-Timers

Kraken sign Donato, jerseys selling like hotcakes – Weekly One-Timers

Look, we’re pretty sure we’ve mentioned this about a thousand times in the past as we have inched closer and closer to training camp, but we really mean it this time… KRAKEN HOCKEY IS ON THE HORIZON!

The team officially opens camp in less than a week—Thursday, Sept. 23, to be precise—and will play its first preseason game next Sunday in Spokane. Literal, actual, honest-to-goodness Seattle Kraken hockey is just over a week away [insert “Dr. Phil Having Panic Attack” gif or “Overweight Cat Breathing Heavily” gif here]!

It… is… happening.

Seattle Kraken news

Kraken sign Ryan Donato

The Kraken have seemingly done their darndest to add as many middle-six or bottom-six forwards on one-year deals as humanly possible this offseason. This week, the club added Ryan Donato to that group with a one-way contract worth $750K. It’s an interesting addition to an already crowded corps of depth forwards, so how he slots in remains to be seen.

The fact that he would have to be paid his NHL salary even in the AHL indicates that the Kraken do intend on keeping Donato in the Emerald City when the season gets underway. And while Donato has proven that he is an NHL player, he has yet to show as a constant producer offensively, which has in turn caused his minutes to decrease as past seasons have worn on. On a $750K deal, Donato could end up being a steal if he can get some decent minutes with good linemates.

Said general manager Ron Francis of the former Harvard Crimson standout and Team USA Olympian, “Ryan’s hockey sense and ability to contribute on the scoresheet are two ingredients we are excited to add to our forward group. We like his offensive potential and believe he can add scoring depth.”

stats from nhl.com

Kraken jerseys selling like hotcakes

Apparently Seattle fans really were excited to get their hands on the team’s new jerseys. Home and road sweaters officially went on sale this week, and at the newly opened Kraken Community Iceplex, the third rink was temporarily turned into a jersey-focused megastore. Lines at times stretched out the door and down block, as Seattle faithful clamored for their first beloved sweater with the mean and mysterious ‘S’ on the chest.

The jerseys being sold at the megastore and at the Kraken Team Stores in Chandler’s Cove and Bellevue Square Mall feature an “Inaugural Season” patch on the right shoulder. If you’re like me and want the jersey to maintain a bit more of an evergreen look beyond this season by not having that patch, you can apparently buy them sans the patch here. That’s just a little pro tip for you.

As an aside, speaking of the Kraken Community Iceplex, I had the good fortune of playing hockey at the facility this week, and it truly is unlike any other arena in the greater Seattle area. It is a fantastic place to play.

Training camp tickets now available to members of The Depths

The heading of this section pretty much says it all, but if you’re a member of “The Depths,” you now have access to purchase tickets to training camp. Orders are limited to two tickets per member and can definitely sell out (the KCI isn’t that big), so get ’em while they’re hot!

Chris Driedger reveals goalie gear

We will have a lot more Kraken goalie gear content in the coming weeks, but for now, we wanted to make sure you at least saw Chris Driedger’s new setup from Vaughn, which is truly a work of art. Behold.

Driedger hasn’t revealed his mask just yet, but a little birdie tells us it will feature a certain villain who lives at the bottom of the sea and prefers that debts owed to him are settled with souls.

Matty Beniers named alternate captain at Michigan

Seattle’s top prospect and No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, Matty Beniers, was named an alternate captain for the University of Michigan for the upcoming season.

He joins a five-man leadership group for the Wolverines, made up of Beniers, Nick Blankenburg, Jimmy Lambert, Nolan Moyle, and Mike Pastujov. Those other four players are all entering their respective senior seasons, while Beniers is only a sophomore, a huge credit to the leadership skills that he possesses.

Beniers will be a key cog in the machine that will be the Michigan Wolverines, as he, Owen Power, Luke Hughes, Kent Johnson, and Brendan Brisson set out on their odyssey for an NCAA championship. Shoutout to @Bouldergrad41 on Twitter for referring to that group as “The Frozen Fab Five,” which is a pretty solid moniker for a Michigan team.

National television schedule announced

The NHL’s new national broadcast partners, ESPN and TNT/TBS, announced their schedules for the season. The Kraken are among the league leaders with 13 nationally televised games.

Seattle will be featured as part of a season-opening ESPN double-header on Oct. 12, when the Kraken play at Vegas for their first game ever. The home opener against Vancouver will also be carried nationally on ESPN+ and Hulu on Oct. 23.

Around the boards

NHL Media Tour

The NHL is currently holding its two-day National Media Tour in Chicago, which is being attended by Kraken netminder Philipp Grubauer and forward Jordan Eberle.

And while those brief clips of Grubauer and Eberle taking photos are neat, have you seen Thatcher Demko catching a drone?

How about Roman Josi showing off his incredible artistic abilities?

You don’t see that every day

As a goalie, I always like to point out that five players have to make a mistake before the puck gets to me. But sometimes, just one player makes a really obvious mistake, and it’s a big enough mistake to cover for the other four.

This is a tough moment for Mikhail Mamkin of Spartak Moscow in the KHL, who not only whiffs on the outlet pass, but then follows it up by stepping on the puck, falling down, and sliding it right onto the tape of a wide-open Andrei Kuzmenko. Kuzmenko then finds Anton Burdasov for an easy tap-in.

Remember those Southwest Airlines commercials that ended in “Wanna get away?” This blooper could be one of those commercials. The spot would need nothing else, just this clip with the narrator asking that question at the end.

 Darren Brown is the Chief Content Officer at Sound Of Hockey and the host, producer, and editor of the Sound Of Hockey Podcast. He is an inconsistent beer league goalie who believes that five players have to make a mistake before the puck gets to him. Follow him on Twitter @DarrenFunBrown or email darren@soundofhockey.com.

Kraken players skate, training camp opening soon, vaccinations required – Weekly One-Timers

Kraken players skate, training camp opening soon, vaccinations required – Weekly One-Timers

Things are getting very real, Kraken fans! The Kraken Community Iceplex is open, players have arrived and actually skated in front of media on Thursday, and Kraken training camp is officially set to open on Sept. 23. Oh yes, things are definitely getting real. 

Here’s what you need to know from the hockey world for this past week. 

Seattle Kraken news

Iceplex grand opening

The Kraken Community Iceplex had its grand opening on Thursday. As part of the event, a group of Kraken players including Jaden Schwartz, Philipp Grubauer, Alexander Wennberg, Calle Jarnkrok, and many more took the ice for an informal practice and played a scrimmage. Check out Andy Eide’s story on the event here, which features lots of great photos of the event from Brian Liesse. 

We know you’re wondering, and yes, we did get a good look at Philipp Grubauer’s Kraken goalie gear. 

Kraken goalie Philipp Grubauer was on the ice at the Kraken Community Iceplex Thursday (Brian Liesse photo)

He has gone with a mostly white True setup, with deep sea blue and ice blue accents, while his mask is heavily branded with team logos. It’s a pretty typical setup for Grubauer and isn’t anything groundbreaking, but it’s clean and tastefully done, and it’s certainly cool to see the team’s star netminder already donning his Kraken-specific equipment.  

Training camp set to open Sept. 23

Have you heard the news? Training camp is set to open Sept. 23! By my math, that’s just 12 days from now. Fans will be able to procure tickets for the event if they are members of The Depths, the online club that was recently introduced by the team to give access to pre-sales, exclusive content, and several other benefits.

Fans ages 12 and older will be required to show proof of vaccination against COVID in order to attend training camp, which will be held at the Iceplex. 

Kraken requiring vaccinations

Speaking of proof of vaccination, you will need to be fully vaxxed if you want to attend games or concerts at Climate Pledge Arena. 

This is a pretty big deal. Other pro sports teams wanting to show that they are taking seriously the fight against the ongoing pandemic have required either proof of vaccination or a negative test. But the Kraken—always progressive in their approach to social issues—will give only one option to fans wishing to attend, and that is to get the shot. 

The team will also require proof of vaccination for its three preseason games in Spokane, Everett, and Kent.

A year ago, going to an arena of 17,000-plus screaming fans would have been a non-starter for most. But now, there will be a way to attend with relative peace of mind that everyone in the building has taken the necessary steps to stop the spread of this still scary and still very dangerous disease. 

Kraken sign Dennis Cholowski

The last of the restricted free agent dominos fell for Seattle this week, as defenseman Dennis Cholowski was signed to a one-year, two-way deal worth $900K. The 23-year-old was selected by the Kraken in the Expansion Draft from the Detroit Red Wings. 

Cholowski was born in Langley, B.C., and spent a year in the WHL, splitting the season between Prince George and Portland. He had a strong rookie season in Detroit in 2018-19, when he played 52 games and notched 16 points. Since then, he’s been up and down between the NHL and the AHL, and last season only got 16 games with the big club. 

He’s a two-way defenseman with upside, but he also will be competing in Kraken training camp for a spot on a deep blue line and is on a two-way deal, meaning there’s a good chance he spends time in Charlotte this year. 

NWHL re-brands to Premier Hockey Federation

The National Women’s Hockey League is officially changing its name to become the Premier Hockey Federation before the upcoming season. Per the league’s official announcement, the move is meant to eliminate gender inequities by lifting the word “women’s” from the name, while also providing a more inclusive environment for all of its athletes. 

Ditching six years of work to build up the NWHL into a recognizable brand had to have been an enormous decision for the league and relatively new commissioner Tyler Tumminia. And while we certainly don’t doubt that inclusivity is at the heart of it, we can’t help wondering how the decision was impacted by the existence of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association. 

The PWHPA’s membership features some of the world’s best players, many of whom have been vocal against the NWHL in the past. Could the change to PHF have anything to do with trying to win back some of those players? Time will tell.

Around the boards

Winter Classic jerseys revealed

The Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues unveiled their respective Winter Classic jerseys this week.

As a native of Minnesota, I can tell you that Wild fans gave a big, collective “uffda” at the revelation of these busy, excessively striped, elbow patched uniforms (yes, they have elbow patches).

St. Louis, meanwhile, played it a little safer and came up with a pretty clean, simple look that should play well on TV.

David Backes retires

Speaking of St. Louis, David Backes got the one-day contract treatment from the organization that drafted him and employed him for 10 NHL seasons. So, he officially retires as a member of the Blues, after spending time in Boston and Anaheim the last couple years. Backes, 37, scored 248 goals and 313 assists in 965 career regular-season games. He was given quite the sendoff when he made his last visit to St. Louis as a Duck last season, so his decision to officially hang up the skates was not a surprise.

 Darren Brown is the Chief Content Officer at Sound Of Hockey and the host, producer, and editor of the Sound Of Hockey Podcast. He is an inconsistent beer league goalie who believes that five players have to make a mistake before the puck gets to him. Follow him on Twitter @DarrenFunBrown or email darren@soundofhockey.com.

More depth signings for Seattle Kraken, US Women take silver, NHL returning to Olympics

More depth signings for Seattle Kraken, US Women take silver, NHL returning to Olympics

Can you smell that? That funky, yet wonderful aroma? It smells good, doesn’t it? You know what that smell is? That’s the smell of hockey season, folks! Ok, perhaps “good smelling” and “hockey” don’t typically go together all that well, but nonetheless, it’s in the air. Kraken players are making last-minute preparations and will be descending upon the Emerald City in the coming weeks, as the team’s inaugural training camp is just around the corner. In fact, believe it or not, the first preseason games in team history will be played THIS MONTH!

We’re almost there, gang. And while the hockey world has been largely dormant for the past month, there have been a few things happening of late. We fill you in on what you may have missed on this latest edition of Weekly One-Timers. 

Seattle Kraken News

Kraken sign Riley Sheahan

The Kraken continued adding to their stockpile of veteran depth players on one-year deals this week, signing 29-year-old forward Riley Sheahan to a contract worth $850K. The 6-foot-2, 216 pounder won’t be a top-six guy, but he can provide some center help to the checking line and win faceoffs. He also kills penalties, so there’s some value there. How Sheahan slots in remains to be seen, but we could envision him centering Seattle’s fourth line for much of the season or serving as an extra forward for when injuries happen. 

Sheahan has never produced big numbers offensively and is coming off a season in Buffalo in which he notched just four goals in 53 games. So, he isn’t here to fill up the opposing team’s net. Says Ron Francis via press release, “His versatility, strong penalty-killing ability, and skill in the faceoff circle make him a valuable addition to our forward group.”

So, there you go. He’s a depth guy who can play in the middle. Sheahan has 566 career NHL games under his belt with the Red Wings, Penguins, Panthers, Oilers, and Sabres. He has 70 career goals and 107 assists, and he is slightly above 50 percent in the faceoff circle, with his best season at the dot coming in 2018-19 when he won 54.93 percent of his draws.

Kraken sign Gustav Olofsson

This one actually happened last week, but we haven’t had a WOT article since then, so we will mention it. The Kraken also brought defenseman Gustav Olofsson, 26, into the fold on yet another one-year deal worth $750K. The Colorado College and Green Bay Gamblers (USHL) alumnus was once a highly regarded prospect in the Minnesota Wild organization. But multiple serious shoulder and knee injuries derailed things for him right when it looked like he was about to break the NHL lineup full time. 

In all, Olofsson has 59 career NHL games with 11 assists. He played last season for the Laval Rocket of the AHL, where he notched a goal and 11 assists in 24 games.  

Seattle Thunderbird Thomas Milic invited to Kraken camp

Thunderbird netminder Thomas Milic, 18, received an invitation to make the trek up I-5 from Kent for Seattle Kraken training camp, slated to start Sept. 22. Milic was named the WHL U.S. Division’s rookie of the year last season, with 2.74 goals against average and .913 save percentage in nine games. He also allowed just one goal in two games for Team Canada at the U18 World Championship in the spring. 

Milic did not get selected in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, but he still has two years of eligibility. Kraken training camp gives him a chance to elevate his status as an NHL prospect and helps Seattle by having a warm body to fill a goal crease. 

Jerseys becoming available 

A few fans who signed up for a WaFd Bank account in conjunction with their season ticket plans have already received their personalized Kraken jerseys.

What we learned from the early release is that the Kraken will wear a neat little inaugural season patch, which features some sea, some sky, and some Mount Rainier. As far as patches go, it’s pretty cool! 

Jerseys go on sale for the general public starting on Sept. 15.

USA takes silver at Women’s Worlds

After having the event canceled and/or postponed two separate times, it was great to see the IIHF Women’s World Championship finally get played out. The tournament did not disappoint, as heated rivals Team USA and Team Canada advanced to the the gold medal game and went to three-on-three overtime. 

Things were looking good for the Americans in the early going of the pivotal contest, as they jumped out to a 2-0 lead thanks to two greasy netmouth rebound goals by Alex Carpenter. But the pesky Canadians clawed their way back to level the score midway through the second period. Ann-Renée Desbiens made some great saves down the stretch to carry her squad into the extra frame, where the legendary Marie-Philip Poulin sniped home a game winner that only she knew had gone in. 

By the way, we at Sound Of Hockey are big fans of 20-minute three-on-three sessions. Holy cats! 

Canadian Blayre Turnbull reportedly broke her fibula while celebrating the gold medal win, but then stayed on the ice on a stretcher to celebrate. #HockeyPerson

Around the boards

NHL to participate in the Olympics

The NHL will participate in the Olympics after all! We weren’t particularly surprised to hear this, being that Seattle will play just three games in the entire month of February after the league built a long break into the schedule. But after the league skipped the last Games, we were still hesitant to make assumptions. This is great news for hockey fans all around the world. Nations will submit their “long lists” in mid-October, and final rosters will be announced in January. 

Philipp Grubauer (Germany) and Alexander True (Denmark) are the most likely Seattle Kraken players to represent their respective countries at these Olympics.

UAA hockey program saved

The University of Alaska Anchorage hockey program has been saved! After a wild ride and an incredible fundraising campaign, Save Seawolf Hockey reached its $3 million goal, and UAA announced that it would reinstate the program for the 2022-23 season. Read all about the remarkable efforts of campaign chairperson Kathie Bethard here

Jason Payne hired as only Black head coach in North American pro hockey

The Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL hired Jason Payne this week as their head coach. Payne becomes the only Black head coach in North American professional hockey. The Cyclones are also the only pro hockey team with a female general manager, and they are the same organization from which the Kraken hired Everett Fitzhugh to be the NHL’s first Black play-by-play voice. Payne, 45, was previously the team’s assistant coach and played a 14-year pro career. 

Coyotes make arena bid

After effectively being booted out of Gila River Arena by the City of Glendale, the Arizona Coyotes have been seeking a long-term arena solution in the Phoenix area. This week, the organization submitted a bid to build a new arena in Tempe, a very positive first step in the process. Under their current agreement with Glendale, the Coyotes can only play one more season at Gila River Arena. So if this bid—which will likely require several months of review—gets approved by Tempe, the team will still be without a home starting in 2022-23 and will need to find a temporary venue.

NHL not messing around with anti-vaxxers

The NHL rolled out its COVID protocols for players and staff this week. The league and the NHLPA agreed on the rules, which do not mess around with those who are choosing to not get vaccinated. There will be monetary loss for unvaccinated players who miss time due to infection or close contact with positive cases, and the experiences between vaccinated and unvaccinated players will be very different. Elliotte Friedman had a good rundown of the protocols here. Michael Russo also reports that approximately 95% of NHL players are fully vaccinated.

Darren Brown is the Chief Content Officer at Sound Of Hockey and the host, producer, and editor of the Sound Of Hockey Podcast. He is an inconsistent beer league goalie who believes that five players have to make a mistake before the puck gets to him. Follow him on Twitter @DarrenFunBrown or email darren@soundofhockey.com.

Matty Beniers returns to Michigan, Kole Lind jumps on a tire – Weekly One-Timers

Matty Beniers returns to Michigan, Kole Lind jumps on a tire – Weekly One-Timers

As far as the Seattle Kraken are concerned, it was a mostly quiet week from the organization. However, there was a rather large—albeit expected—Kraken-related bombshell dropped by the University of Michigan. In a strangely timed Friday evening news dump, the school confirmed that Seattle’s No. 2 overall selection in this year’s NHL Entry Draft, Matty Beniers, will return to the school for his sophomore season.

We dig into that Beniers news and plenty more in this week’s edition of Weekly One-Timers.

Matty Beniers returns to Michigan

Beniers joins No. 1 pick Owen Power (Buffalo) and No. 5 pick Kent Johnson (Columbus) back in Ann Arbor for the trio’s second season together.

And lest you forget, No. 4 overall pick Luke Hughes (New Jersey) is an incoming freshman for the Wolverines this year, and they still have guys like John Beecher (No. 30 overall in 2019), Thomas Bordeleau (No. 38 overall in 2020), and Brendan Brisson (No. 29 overall in 2020). So, rightfully, every pundit in the hockey world will surely be choosing Michigan as the odds-on favorite to win the national championship.

This is the whole point for Beniers deciding not to immediately join Seattle. The Wolverines had the misfortune of a COVID outbreak prematurely ending last season on the eve of the NCAA Tournament for a group that was already among the favorites to reach the Frozen Four. Now bring back all that great talent and add in Hughes, and this has the makings of one of the best college hockey teams of all time.

Plus, after one year of college hockey with no fans in the stands, a drastically altered schedule, and heavy restrictions throughout, we’ve heard the future Kraken center talk about how he hasn’t gotten the true college experience yet.

Is it disappointing that we won’t see Beniers in training camp and fighting to be a part of the Kraken roster all season long? Of course. Is it surprising that this was his decision? Certainly not.

Our guess here at Sound Of Hockey is that Beniers and his highly drafted brethren will all jump ship as soon as Michigan’s season ends, meaning you should still get a chance to see the touted prospect at Climate Pledge Arena at least a few times in the spring.

Kraken add goalie depth

Another bit of Kraken news this week was the signing of netminder Antoine Bibeau to a one-year, two-way contract worth $750K at the NHL level. Bibeau is certainly bound for the minor leagues, barring injuries to Philipp Grubauer or Chris Driedger. He does have four games of NHL experience for the Maple Leafs and Avalanche and is 2-1-0 in his career. At the AHL level, he has a career record of 100-64-28 with a 2.74 goals against average and .907 save percentage.

Of course, the Kraken also have Joey Daccord in the fold, and they will share their AHL affiliate Charlotte Checkers with the Florida Panthers—who will have goalie prospects of their own needing time—so it will be interesting to see how Bibeau actually slots in as the season plays out.

Kole Lind jumps on a tire for some reason

Kole Lind, the 22-year-old forward prospect selected by the Kraken in the Expansion Draft from Vancouver, posted a video of himself wearing skates and jumping onto a tire this week.

We at SOH have a lot of questions for Lind. They are:

  • Why?
  • How?
  • Huh?
  • Whu?
  • What the…?
  • WHY?!

Call me cynical, but I feel like it’s possible to get the same results by jumping onto something that won’t roll away if Lind were to land a centimeter off in any direction, potentially causing serious injury. Nonetheless, this is a pretty good party trick.

King Henrik announces his retirement

Our 15-year swoonfest has ended. Perhaps the dreamiest goalie to ever don the pads has announced that he has officially hung them up for good.

Breathtaking good looks aside, Lundqvist truly was a remarkable talent in net. I recall seeing him in person for the first time in a game against the Detroit Red Wings at Madison Square Garden during the 2009-10 season.

I remember being surprised by how deep he played in the crease, practically never leaving his goal line. He got away with it because he had this wide stance that nearly spanned the entire bottom of the net from post to post, and his ability to react to shots was as good as any netminder I’ve ever seen. Growing up, I was taught to always play at the top of the crease to take away angles from shooters, so it was fascinating to see a netminder have such profound success with that style.

That night, the Rangers won, and the fans chanted, “Hen-reek! Hen-reek!” about a half-dozen times as the King stood on his head throughout.

It’s also interesting to note that although Lundqvist signed a one-year deal with the Washington Capitals last season, his scary cardiac diagnosis and ensuing open-heart surgery meant that he actually did end up playing his entire career with the Blueshirts.

In all, Lundqvist posted a career record of 459-310-96 with a 2.43 goals against average and .918 save percentage. He led the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Final in 2014 and backstopped Team Sweden to Olympic gold in Turin in 2006. He is a shoo-in first-ballot Hall of Famer, and the Rangers have already confirmed that his No. 30 will be hoisted to the MSG rafters this season.

By the way, 30 is a pretty common goalie number, so in a way, it was a bit selfish of Lundqvist to choose it way back when he began his NHL career. He clearly knew that he would become one of the best netminders ever and his jersey would eventually be retired, taking a coveted numerical option away from many future Ranger backstops.

But I digress. Congratulations Henrik on an incredible career. I’m sure you are reading this.

Chris Pronger jersey retirement

Speaking of jerseys being hoisted to the rafters, the St. Louis Blues announced that they will retire No. 44 this season.

We at SOH were surprised to see it wasn’t the Arizona Coyotes who would be retiring Chris Pronger’s number.

Coyotes booted out of Gila River Arena

Speaking of the Coyotes, the City of Glendale announced this week that they are no longer seeking an extension of their lease agreement with the club beyond the 2021-22 season.

Some have said it’s a negotiating tactic, but others have said it’s truly the end of the road for the team at Gila River Arena, and the Coyotes will need to find a new home after this season. Katie Strang had a great rundown of the situation in The Athletic. She also had reported on the toxic situation playing out between the Coyotes and their vendors back in February, and that certainly is a factor here.

Where does this organization go next? Gary Bettman has stated he expects the team to remain in the Phoenix area, but you can bet there are other markets out there—namely Quebec City, Houston, and Kansas City—that are salivating over the developing situation in the desert.

Team USA off to good start at Women’s Worlds

The IIHF Women’s World Championship got underway this week in Calgary, and Team USA dominated Switzerland en route to a 3-0 victory on Friday. The Americans got goals from Brianna Decker, Kendall Coyne Schofield, and Grace Zumwinkle.

Team USA goes back to work Sunday evening against rival Finland at 6:30 p.m. Pacific. All games can be viewed on NHL Network.

Palate cleanser

We have ice at the Iceplex, folks! I repeat, we have ice at the Iceplex!

Darren Brown is the Chief Content Officer at Sound Of Hockey and the host, producer, and editor of the Sound Of Hockey Podcast. He is an inconsistent beer league goalie who believes that five players have to make a mistake before the puck gets to him. Follow him on Twitter @DarrenFunBrown or email darren@soundofhockey.com.

Seattle Kraken trade rumors, Kraken Community Iceplex – Weekly One-Timers

Seattle Kraken trade rumors, Kraken Community Iceplex – Weekly One-Timers

We did it, team! We made it through the 110-degree heat that suffocated our region and had more than 50 percent of us wishing that we had at some point bucked the Emerald City trend of not having air conditioning. If the unparalleled heatwave had arrived last week, at least the Seattle Kraken hiring a head coach in Dave Hakstol and a TV color commentator in JT Brown would have provided a distraction.

Instead, the fiery heat of 1,000 suns torched our region in a relatively quiet week for the Kraken, when all we could do was sweat and daydream about the artificial chill of an ice arena. 

The good news is that the peak levels of swass are behind us, 4th of July weekend is upon us, and we are just 19 days away from the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft. Holy guacamole! 

Kraken Community Iceplex

Hey, speaking of ice arenas, the Seattle Kraken training center at Northgate brought to you by hockey (or whatever it was previously being called) officially has a slightly more concise name now!

The team has partnered with Starbucks as its “Community Impact Partner to strengthen the community and advance inclusion and equity in Seattle.” Apparently part of that partnership means renaming the practice facility the Kraken Community Iceplex. It also means that said iceplex will have a Starbucks Community Store as one of its many amenities. 

Rendering of exterior of the newly named Kraken Community Iceplex, opening in September (source: Seattle Kraken).

The word “iceplex” does have a pretty good ring to it. It’s like a complex, but it’s centered around ice. It’s an iceplex. 

The partnership with Starbucks is interesting too. The coffee giant has tried to demonstrate that it cares about its community, so it’s no surprise that everything mentioned in the team’s press release about the partnership is focused on diversity, equity, and Seattle pride. 

Rendering of Starbucks Community Store at Kraken Community Iceplex (source: Seattle Kraken).

UW to play its home games at Kraken Community Iceplex

One other small nugget of Seattle-centric hockey news this week was that the University of Washington’s club hockey team will begin playing its home games at the Kraken Community Iceplex this coming season. The Huskies, who compete in the ACHA, previously played their home games at Olympic View Arena in Mountlake Terrace.

The new arena is much closer to campus and obviously will provide a more modern game-day experience for players and fans alike. 

Pre-Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft trade rumors heating up

Some Seattle Kraken trade rumors started swirling this week. The first one revolved around Duncan Keith’s status as a Chicago Blackhawk. Elliotte Friedman surmised that a trade could be brewing to send the three-time Stanley Cup winner to “either the Pacific Northwest or western Canada.” 

Isn’t that interesting? 

Keith has familial ties to this area of the continent, and reports indicate that the Blackhawks are trying to work with him to find a suitable landing spot. Keith has a full no-movement clause, so he can veto any trade he doesn’t like. 

Keith has just two years left at a $5.5 million cap hit, but the real dollars left are quite low at $3.6 million total remaining to be paid. If there’s a sweetener thrown in to get the Kraken to take that cap hit, it makes a ton of sense to throw Keith onto the second pairing on the Kraken blue line. Keith’s kid lives in Canada, though, so north of the border is probably preferable for him.  

There have also been unsubstantiated rumors flying around on Twitter that the Kraken are interested in Jake Voracek from the Flyers. Hakstol did coach Voracek, but man, at an $8.25 million annual cap hit through 2023-24, Philadelphia better be giving up its kitchen sink to get Seattle to take that on. Voracek’s production has also waned pretty dramatically in recent years, so I just don’t see it.

Meanwhile, the Nashville Predators have traded one of their core forwards, Viktor Arvidsson, to the Los Angeles Kings for a second-round pick in this year’s draft and a third-round pick next year. On paper it feels like a great deal for the Kings, who are trying to kickstart their rebuild. 

Arvidsson, 28, is just two years removed from a 34-goal season, but he has been dealing with a lot of injuries of late that have greatly hampered his production. His addition to the roster means LA will likely have to expose either Blake Lizotte or Lias Andersson in the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft. 

More coaches hired around the NHL

After the Kraken hired Hakstol last week, the Buffalo Sabres and Arizona Coyotes each named their bench bosses for the foreseeable future. 

The Sabres have removed the interim tag from Don Granato, who did seem to have a calming influence on that organization, though the team only went 9-16-3 under his watch this season. Still, he’s a well-respected hockey man who has been through the grind of coaching at every level of the sport and survived Hodgkin’s lymphoma, so you can’t help feeling good for the guy. 

The Sabres made the announcement in a pretty great way on social media. 

Meanwhile, in the desert, the Coyotes went off the board a bit with their hiring of André “Bear” Tourigny as their head coach after parting ways with Rick Tocchet in May. Tourigny spent the last three seasons behind the bench of the Ottawa 67’s in the Ontario Hockey League and also coached Team Canada to silver at the 2021 World Junior Championships. 

If you texted Bear to wish him congratulations, it may be a little while before you hear back. 

Former players Alex Tanguay and Tuomo Ruutu were also hired as assistant coaches in Detroit and Florida, respectively this week. 

Around the boards

The Montreal Canadiens, playing in their first Stanley Cup Final since 1993, asked if they could increase the number of fans allowed into the Bell Centre for the remainder of the series from 3,500 to 10,500. The request was denied by the Quebec Public Health authorities. The decision is a tad ironic, considering thousands of fans are allowed to stand shoulder to shoulder in the streets to watch the games, but that’s neither here nor there. 

Jonathan Toews was back in the public eye for the first time this week since the Blackhawks announced at the beginning of the 2020-21 season that he was dealing with a mysterious illness that caused him to sit out for the entirety of the campaign.

I don’t know what chronic immune response syndrome is, but I know I don’t want it. 

The big individual NHL Awards were announced this week. If you listen to the Sound Of Hockey Podcast, you will understand when I say that the only award that matters, of course, is the Calder Trophy. Minnesota’s Kirill Kaprizov won the rookie of the year award with 99 first-place votes, the biggest landslide victory since Teemu Selanne in 1992-93. Imagine being the one writer who didn’t vote for Kirill. OK, but seriously, the full list of winners can be found here.

ESPN announced its full lineup of hockey broadcasters and reporters in a video that will surely hype you up. No Gary Thorne, but still, some pretty incredible names in here.

Darren Brown is the Chief Content Officer at Sound Of Hockey and the host, producer, and editor of the Sound Of Hockey Podcast. He is an inconsistent beer league goalie who believes that five players have to make a mistake before the puck gets to him. Follow him on Twitter @DarrenFunBrown or email darren@soundofhockey.com.

Seattle Kraken head coach update – Weekly One-Timers

Seattle Kraken head coach update – Weekly One-Timers

The dominoes are falling. With the Expansion Draft just over a month away and the semifinals of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs in full swing, things really are heating up in the search for the first head coach of the Seattle Kraken.

Seattle Kraken head coach search

It has long been stated by Seattle Kraken general manager Ron Francis that the head coach hiring process hinges on who might be available after the conclusion of the NHL season. He has also held firm that the team hopes to have a coach in place by the end of the second quarter of the year.

Sure, there are still four teams playing, but the chances of the remaining coaches—Barry Trotz, Jon Cooper, Pete DeBoer, or Dominique Ducharme—becoming available are nil at this point. In a way, we’ve really crossed the “season is over” threshold, because the field of available coaches is set, barring any additional firings in the coming days. And as for the “second quarter” timeframe? Well, I’m no calendar expert, but I believe the second quarter ends in 12 days.

We at SOH believe that Rod Brind’Amour was the lynchpin of the “wait for who is available” hold-up and was absolutely Plan A for Seattle. Brind’Amour had been in dragged-out contract negotiations with the Hurricanes for months. So we surmised that Francis may have been hoping to lure the newly named Jack Adams Award winner away from the franchise and community to which he is so closely connected, even as it was continuously being reported that Brind’Amour was close to signing a new deal.

Sadly for the Kraken, it was announced on Thursday that Brind’Amour has signed a new three-year deal to stay in Carolina.

What’s Plan B for the Seattle Kraken head coach search?

We at SOH also think it is not a coincidence that news broke on Thursday that Rick Tocchet is being granted a third interview for the Seattle Kraken head coach position.

If Brind’Amour really was Plan A, then certainly Francis and his staff had been thinking through some other options in case Rod the Bod did end up keeping his rippling abs in Carolina.

Rod the Bod
Rod Brind’Amour has rippling abs.

Plan B is now being kicked into high gear. Tocchet, former head coach of the Arizona Coyotes, is an obvious fit for the role as well, so his progress through the interview process comes as no surprise. And what about David Quinn? Could he be given a shot?  

Our own Jim Wilkie did a great rundown on all the candidates back in May, so give that a read to bring yourself up to speed on everyone who could be considered for the position.

Whether it ends up being Tocchet or somebody else, it does feel like a Seattle Kraken head coach hire is imminent.

Other Seattle Kraken news

The Kraken are continuing to demonstrate that they are well aware their market expands beyond the borders of Washington State. This week, the team announced a partnership with Bristol Bay Native Corporation. According to the release, “Bristol Bay will be prominently represented throughout Climate Pledge Arena on hundreds of TV screens and the arena’s LED rings for arena visitors, on the main scoreboards during televised games, at the state-of-the-art Kraken training center, and at one of the arena’s prime marketplaces.”

BBNC is a for-profit corporation that converts those profits into benefits for its shareholders. The mission of the organization is to encourage its shareholders to pursue educational opportunities and to promote and preserve cultural heritage.

“Would You Rather?” Round 2 results

This week, we had a second round of Expansion Draft “Would You Rather?” on soundofhockey.com. I gave John Barr a bit of grief for this one because by including a goalie in the field, even some light Googling could have revealed that Team 3 was clearly the Washington Capitals. But that’s neither here nor there.

Here are the results:

Blackhawks sued again for sexual assault cover-up during 2009-10 season

This is a terrible story, and one that is continuing to develop. The Chicago Blackhawks now face a second lawsuit for not properly addressing allegations of sexual assault by former video coach Bradley Dale Aldrich on a player during the 2009-10 season.

This new lawsuit comes from a former high school hockey player in Michigan and alleges that because the Blackhawks did not act on the aforementioned assault in 2009-10, Aldrich was allowed to remain in hockey circles. Aldrich later assaulted this new plaintiff in 2013 and was eventually sentenced to six months in jail and five years of probation for his crime.

Around the boards

It’s a tumultuous time in college hockey, with several programs—including Alaska Anchorage, Robert Morris, and Alabama Huntsville—either eliminating or suspending their programs. News that Augustana University in Sioux Falls, S.D., is attempting to add a Division I hockey program is certainly welcome.

Stephen Johns has been dealing with severe depression after repeated concussions ended his hockey career prematurely. He has decided to take control over his life and his mental health by embarking on a remarkable journey to rollerblade and road trip across the United States, making a movie about it along the way. Johns aims to “help others facing their own battles,” as he puts in countless “Mental Miles.”  Very cool.

The WHL has announced an October 1 start date, with a full 68-game season planned for all teams. The main caveat to this otherwise normal-looking season for the Dub is that there will be no crossover play between the Eastern Conference and Western Conference. Other than that, Everett Silvertips and Seattle Thunderbirds fans should be fully back in business this fall.

Palate cleanser

Is Jimmy Fallon just pretending to be a New York Islanders fan for attention? Friend of the Sound Of Hockey Podcast, ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski, investigates.

Ralph Maccio does come across as a true Isles fan, though, doesn’t he?

Darren Brown is the Chief Content Officer at Sound Of Hockey and the host, producer, and editor of the Sound Of Hockey Podcast. He is an inconsistent beer league goalie who believes that five players have to make a mistake before the puck gets to him. Follow him on Twitter @DarrenFunBrown or email darren@soundofhockey.com.