It’s a quiet time for the most part in hockey land, but not in the mind of Troy Bodie, Vice President of Hockey and Business Operations for the Seattle Kraken’s top farm team in Coachella Valley, California. After a brief break, he’ll be turning his full attention to player development and trying to get the franchise back to needing just one more win.
The Firebirds took the American Hockey League by storm in their inaugural season, advancing all the way to overtime of Game-7 of the Calder Cup Final against the Hershey Bears.
The Firebirds fell 3-to-2, their third sudden death loss of the series. Their regulation setback in Game-4 of the final was also by one goal.
Although a heartbreaking defeat, the impact of the overall success and effort will carry forward.
“Coming into a non-hockey market like the desert, there was no arena there, there was no ice, we really had to build the hockey market,” Bodie recalls. “In saying that, there were a lot of snowbirds from Canada and the US north and Seattle and Washington that were there in the off-season, but we still had to build the market and put a team on the ice that they could be proud of. That was certainly our goal, to represent the valley well, and I think we did an excellent job of that through and through. It was great to see what we accomplished on and off the ice, in the community and everything, but it was a lot of fun and we just hope to continue that success.”
Obviously, on the ice, there’s only one way to top last season’s performance. One more win.
Off the ice, it’s more of the same. The club sold out its playoff games at Acrisure Arena at near 11,000 capacity. Season ticket sales are at or near the top of the AHL.
“It is quite the party, I like to say it’s like a small NHL building,” Bodie added. “No question an NHL atmosphere on the ice, in the stands, it’s first class, our locker room, our gym, we’ve got the practice rink on the property as well. Walk out of the locker room, there’s the home bench to the game rink, and walk out the other door and we’re on the practice rink. It is first class.”
Trying to win Calder Cups is one thing, but it falls second to developing and moving high quality talent to the NHL to improve the Kraken’s chances at winning a Stanley Cup.
Recently we’ve talked long-term “Top-3 Prospects” in general for the Kraken organization. That happens to be about the same number of guys who could immediately impact the big club. One player overlaps both lists: defenseman Ryker Evans.
“Ryker Evans is a great, great prospect for us who didn’t get to play (NHL) games for us this year, but he’s chomping at it and he had an unbelievable (Calder Cup) playoffs,” Bodie said.
“We’ve got a pretty talented young player in Ryker Evans we think is pushing, so it’s important when we build this thing, that we’re not blocking Ryker moving forward too,” Kraken General Manager Ron Francis told us earlier in July.
Bodie also mentioned Tye Kartye, who’s already had a playoff impact at the NHL level, goalie Joey Daccord, who will be in a competition for the back-up spot in Seattle, and older players like Max McCormick and Gustav Olofsson, all having a potential NHL impact at some point.
Skating to Scouting
Bodie finished his playing career in 2015 and joined the scouting ranks almost immediately with the Toronto Maple Leafs organization. He played the final 52 of 159 career NHL games with the club and his final 75 AHL games with the Toronto Marlies.
After three seasons as the team’s Director of Pro Scouting, he was hired by the Kraken.
A large man, 6-foot-5, 225-pounds, Bodie dropped the mitts on quite a few occasions throughout his junior and professional career, but not as often as he would have had he been born in a slightly earlier era. In the video below, we reminisce about that fact, a couple of his tilts, and his first NHL goals.
We also talk about the start-up past, present, and future for the American Hockey League’s hottest team on and off the ice, the Coachella Valley Firebirds.
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