So, how was your Monday?
At the Kraken Community Iceplex, the day before the Seattle Kraken officially go anchors aweigh on making franchise history as the NHL’s 32ndteam, they had a planned practice before routine airline travel to embark on a road trip, a five-game stretch to begin a run through history designed to have people talking about for a long time.
What they gained out of Monday: clarity on their leadership situation, and a challenge of five players total now in NHL COVID protocol.
They now have a captain (Mark Giordano, really, to nobody’s surprise). They have four alternates: Jordan Eberle, Jaden Schwartz, Adam Larsson, and Yanni Gourde. All five players wearing a letter on their jersey bring a form of competition in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They have won three Stanley Cups. They have combined for 3,201 career NHL games – an average of about 640 games per player.
Giordano will enter his ninth season as captain of an NHL team.
There are “quiet” leaders (they let their play on the ice do the talking). Others will be vocal in the dressing room.
But there is one common mission in mind: collect the top end leadership to appropriately navigate an expansion season in Seattle that can deliver question marks, challenges, and turns around every corner.
One sharp turn today – five Kraken players were confirmed by Dave Hakstol as placed on the COVID-19 protocol list, and did not practice: Calle Jarnkrok (since last week), Marcus Johansson, Jared McCann, Jamie Oleksiak, and Joonas Donskoi. All bring significant NHL experience, creating question marks in the Kraken lineup that will try to be answered as early as tomorrow night in historic game number one against the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena.
The timetable for each player to return is still undetermined.
To fortify the group of forwards that are currently two skaters short of a full lineup, based on Monday’s practice groups, the Kraken picked forward Alex Barré-Boulet off waivers from the Tampa Bay Lightning, perhaps a rising name with humble beginnings: an undrafted forward originally with four seasons in the offensive-happy Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with Drummondville and Blainville-Boisbriand, Barre-Boulet made the AHL level in 2018-19 after skating in training camp with the Tampa Bay Lightning and was crowned the league’s Rookie of the Year, co-leading the AHL in goals (34).
All he did to follow up that was a 56 point, 60-game burst the next season when he was named to the AHL All-Star Game and was a league second team All-Star honoree.
Boulet now gets a shot at something new, with perhaps, plenty of opportunity around the corner (see below for what he can do).
-18 skaters were present in practice today, with Gourde, ruled as “day to day,” taking turns with Alex Wennberg through drills as a center for Schwartz and Eberle.
-Brandon Tanev moved to the left wing in place of Donskoi, keeping Morgan Geekie and Ryan Donato as a constant (Donato showcased an impressive drive to the net and finish under the crossbar during one practice drill, physically imposing one defender off the puck).
-Colin Blackwell, still missing and absent from the entire duration of training camp due to injury, has been ruled by Hakstol as “out indefinitely.”
-First on ice: Nathan Bastian, getting in extra work with assistant coach Jay Leach.
-The leadership group, of Giordano (C), and alternates Eberle, Schwartz, Gourde, Larsson: 3 Stanley Cups, 3,201 games, 52 years in the NHL, 24 trips to the Stanley Cup Playoffs
-This will be Giordano’s ninth straight year serving as an NHL captain – of course, all previous eight were in Calgary.
-Barré-Boulet, depending on travel schedules into Las Vegas, likely will be able to play in the inaugural franchise opener – “I expect he will be available tomorrow,” Hakstol said.
TODAY’S PRACTICE LINEUP:
Schwartz - Wennberg - Eberle
Tanev - Geekie - Donato
Bastian - Sheahan - Appleton
H. Fleury - Giordano
Soucy - Larsson
Lauzon - Dunn
Cholowski - Borgen
FROM THE PODIUM (via Zoom):
Dave Hakstol on the meaning of the leadership group to wear a letter on an expansion franchise’s jersey:
“We're all honored to be part of the growth of this franchise and have the opportunity to be here. Right from day one, to be part of the foundation and build as we go along and there's no more important position than the captaincy of our hockey team from ‘Gio,” through ‘Schwartzy,’ ‘Lars,’ ‘Ebs,’ and ‘Gordie.’ They're the group that we’ll all look to for leadership as we go through the challenges of the National Hockey League season. Outstanding human beings, really, great teammates, selfless teammates, they've all proven to be great leaders over their time in the National Hockey League.”
Hakstol on the value that the leadership group provides for younger players during a historic season:
“We’ll it’s really, Mike, on different levels. A lot of it starts off the ice and just their preparation, their approach, and what it means to be a real, true professional day in and day out. For sure in terms of leadership, that's one part of it. Their overall approach to the game and their preparation in that regard, how that carries on to the ice, and to their consistency, day in and day out, and consistency shift after shift, practice after practice – those are some of the things that young players can look towards. And obviously, a lot of different things as you go through a season, both good and bad, (there are) different challenges that older veteran players can add their perspective into the mix for younger players.”
Mark Giordano on the meaning of becoming captain of the Kraken:
“I had had a meeting yesterday with (Kraken GM) Ron (Francis) and (Hakstol), I'm honored honestly, to be given responsibility to be a captain of this group of guys and a new organization new team, it means a lot to myself. I told them yesterday, I'll try and do everything I can do to lead the group in the best way that I can, and it means a means a lot to me to be given this responsibility for sure.”
Giordano on his type of leadership:
“I'd like to think I lead more by example, try and play the game the right way, play as hard as you can – night in and night out. But there are times I think when it's important to step up and say the right things as well, and when the group needs a little boost. But I'm saying that I have, obviously, a ton of experience, guys around me, you saw today with the assistant captains who were named - I think all those guys are, are very worthy of being captains in their own right and we’ll lean on each other. Then it's on all the other guys to be leaders. Everyone could lead in their own way, so that's the message to the group today. We’ll go from there. We're looking forward to our first game here.”
Giordano on what defines leadership now versus when he first became captain of the Flames:
“Just like I said before, there's responsibility, there's leading by example. But at the end of the day I always look at the best leaders in the league - guys who help their team win games, play in all key situations. So, looking forward to having a good start here to the season individually but more importantly, as a team. It’s important for us to get out, have a good start, get some confidence rolling, and go from there.”
Jaden Schwartz on Giordano named captain:
“Well, nothing but good things to say about ‘Gio’ – awesome guy, fun guy to have in the locker room, experience, and obviously a really, really important player for us. So I really wasn’t surprised to see ‘Gio’ named captain and we're excited to have a good group surrounding him.He’s an awesome guy and you can see all the things he did in Calgary, in the community and you can see all the other guys look up to him and learn from him. Super happy for him, and I think it was the perfect choice for us.”
Schwartz on wearing a letter as new alternate captain:
“It means a lot. It's a huge honor and super excited to join the leadership group. Great group of guys who've been in the league for a while and experience that I'm super happy a part of it. Just a huge honor to be in the leadership group to Seattle. We're excited to get this thing going tomorrow and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Schwartz on how team approaches the concept of bonding on the upcoming trip:
“When you get on the road it's just you and the team, right? So you're with each other all the time for dinners and different meals like that. We’ve got a back to back (set of games on the schedule), but even on the plane ride, a chance to bond, be together and team up for team dinners and whatnot. So, like I said it's just us on the road so it'll be good to get together and start off on the road. I think everyone's pretty excited for that and, you know, we get a chance to start off in Vegas tomorrow and it's really fun building to play in, so it's a good start for us and we're looking forward to it."
Schwartz on getting different backgrounds together as part of the leadership group:
“I think we've been here for a while so we've actually we've felt pretty good. I think the chemistry has come a long way and guys are starting to get to know each other more and spend time together outside the rink and, you know, start building in a locker room as well. I’ve been here for about a month and there has really been the biggest challenge of everyone just coming into a new system. Guys are used to playing on their own teams and their own systems, so just getting that on the ice is probably the biggest challenge. But in the locker room, we've gelled well so far, have a great group of guys and you can see everyone's getting along. So it's been good.”
Adam Larsson on navigating his role as a leader with new teammates, from different backgrounds:
“I think especially now with a new team, everyone coming from different parts of the league, it’s an honor first of all to be named assistant captain. I’ll do my best to lead on and off ice. You look at this room – we have a lot of good leaders. ‘Gio’ has been our leader from day one – we’re glad for him, well deserved to get “C.” We lead in our own way. We’re eager to get going here.”