Practice Notes: Guess Who's Back?


Calle Jarnkrok, exiting COVID-19 protocol, re-joined the Seattle Kraken on Thursday at practice, at Kraken Community Iceplex.

Who are these guys, and what is this place?

Tongue-in-cheek quips aside, it’s been ten days. Ten long, story-packed, unforgettable, first-game, first-win,get-a-prize forward back days.

Ten days since the Seattle Kraken, putting a 1-3-1 road trip to begin their NHL history behind them, have actually had a chance to practice, and in front of hometown fans. Ten days since they’ve had a chance to go through the “go to practice, then home” routine.

They can finally live it now, returning as a full squad on Thursday at Kraken Community Iceplex.

There’s something to be said about a routine, and how it encourages efficiency. They can finally have it now, with 11 days in the Puget Sound ahead of them to break in their home ice, make more history on Saturday night (first home opener in Kraken history, before a much anticipated capacity crowd), then go home to become nestled in their beds.

The comments were quick today: for good reason. As soon as practice and media availability ended, the Kraken were off to get their first “in person” look at their new dressing room, team facilities, and more, carved inside the spectacularly renovated Climate Pledge Arena.

Notes:

  • Calle Jarnkrok, a projected valuable piece of the Kraken lineup with six straight double-digit goal seasons previously with Nashville, returned to practice for his first full day of action since exiting COVID-19 protocol. He confirmed he’ll be ready to go on Saturday.
  • When will the famous “Swedish House Mafia” nicknamed line return? Save that for the future. Marcus Johansson, a piece of that line with Alex Wennberg, is still on injured reserve. Jarnkrok took reps today with Yanni Gourde and Jaden Schwartz.
  • With Schwartz moving over to a line with Gourde and Jarnkrok, Wennberg was installed for a look at center with Jared McCann and Jordan Eberle as his wingers.
  • Morgan Geekie, who took a shoulder to the chin from New Jersey’s Jonas Siegenthaler on Tuesday and was out for the remainder of the game, returned to practice and rotated through reps at center with Ryan Donato, flanked with wingers Brandon Tanev and Joonas Donskoi (who had a silky-smooth finish during one drill, a snap shot under the bar from the right circle). He was in a red “non-contact” jersey, and head coach Dave Hakstol confirmed after practice that Geekie is on a “day to day” basis for his progress to return.
  • How about a Colin Blackwell update? The Kraken forward, last seen on media day a month ago (one day before the first official practice), is showing signs of improvement: he was seen to begin practice this morning and has appeared on ice alongside Jarnkrok the last two days, though Hakstol stopped short of committing to a timetable for Blackwell’s return. Last season, his second full year in the NHL, he had 12 goals in 47 games for the New York Rangers.
  • Chris Driedger, who cannot come off injured reserve until at least next Tuesday before the Kraken host the Montreal Canadiens, was confirmed by Hakstol as “progressing well.” No timetable yet as far as a definite return.
  • Welcome back, Everett Fitzhugh: first sign at any rink for the esteemed play-by-play voice on the Kraken Audio Network, emerging from COVID-19 protocol. His energy, spirits, and alertness were just as good before the 10-day period of craziness. Officially, his NHL debut (regular season) will be this Saturday, when the Kraken bring history to life for Seattle in their first ever home game against the Canucks at Climate Pledge Arena.

FROM THE PODIUM:
Head coach Dave Hakstol on how he spends the off day:
“Did we have an off day? (Laughter overheard) I don’t recall that. Off days are a good day of rest for the players. I spent a little bit of it in here. But, slept in though.”

Hakstol on the benefit of the first day of practice, back from the road trip:
“It’s great to get back out, and kind of have that opportunity to get 55-60 minutes of work. I thought today was really good, especially coming off a trip and a three hour time change. Sometimes, that can be tough in terms of energy and focus but you know our guys today were outstanding, and the focus was there. Great energy. We were able to work on two or three things that we needed to touch on.”

Hakstol on the addition of Calle Jarnkrok:
“Yeah, ‘Jarnie’ you know is a big part of it. Obviously, going into COVID protocol, not being able to do a whole lot for that long period is tough on anybody. But Jarnie’s been skating in the last couple of days on his own while we were out east, and then coming back into practice today was a huge shot in the arm for our team.”

Hakstol on the impact of veterans to help the team stay the course, after the road trip:
“The leadership, the veterans and really just the poise – the presence of everybody throughout is really important. Now there's, there's a ton of positives that we feel like we achieved, as we went through the road trip. “1-3-1” is not the number of points that we wanted. You know, it just takes a takes a little bit of presence to say ‘well you know legitimately here are the things that we did well, and we have to build on those. And then here's a good understanding of a few of the areas that we weren't very good, and that we have to improve, and just go out and show progress in all of those.’ Build on your positives, improve some of the areas that have to be improved. To have a group of veterans that no one understands what those areas are is really important, because it really narrows the focus and the work that you can do on those areas.”

Forward Calle Jankrok on the challenge of sitting out games:
“Yeah it was tough. It’s always tough to stay back and watch your teammates play and miss the first game too which was a very special game. But I felt good, I didn’t get that sick, so I guess I’m lucky that way. But I’m happy to be back.”

Jarnkrok on what he missed most about being around his teammates:
“I mean all of this - it's tough to sit back and watch the watch the guys play, when I want to be out there, you want to able to help the guys. It’s always tough to not play.”

Defenseman Jamie Oleksiak on the help of having a day off:
“It's good, just getting settled in, obviously you know it's a tough travel day getting used to the time change. But it was kind of nice to be able to unwind a little bit after a long road trip.”

Oleksiak on how long it takes for his body to adjust from travel, when returning home:
“It’s different for everybody. I think, at this point I'm pretty good at falling asleep at a certain time, knowing what I could do before bed, and different things to make sure that you adjust properly. I think just a part of traveling so much and playing out west, you have to get used to that.”

Oleksiak on the anticipation of playing in the first home game in Kraken history on Saturday:“I think all the guys are really jacked up about it. I think it's been a lot of anticipation and I think not many guys have really gotten a chance to see the rink. I think everyone’s excited to get in there, feel the atmosphere, and we know how excited the city is. So I think we're excited to finally get a chance to play in front of everybody.”

Oleksiak on how much of an impact having two full days of practice make for improvement:
“Huge. I mean, again, you know everyone's learning a new system and get used to playing with each other. So, I think whenever we get practicing, we’ve got to take advantage of it, and we had a good day out there today. We’ve just got to make sure, every day we work on little details here and there, and make sure we get incrementally better every day- and just keep building our game as a team.”


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