Seattle Kraken, Seattle Thunderbirds

Simmer’s Sunday: 9 Kraken NHL Bits, Jersey Retirement

Kraken Not Crankin’

Where is everybody?! Oh that’s right, they’re on vacation. That includes Seattle Kraken players, some management and a whole lot of you fans.

But that’s OK, because we’re here for you, and we’ll be providing insights, comparisons, and previews from now until …

57 days until the Kraken preseason opener against the Calgary Flames and 72 days until the regular season opener in Vegas against the Golden Knights.

Of course, the informal skating and training camp will start rolling out three weeks before all of that. So your mindset should be more like 40 days.

We Begin With A Seattle Jersey Hoisting

1) He participated in more games than any player in NHL history and his career began in major juniors with the Seattle Thunderbirds. Patrick Marleau passed Gordie Howe in April of 2021 and ended up with 1,779 NHL games played, twelve more than “Mr. Hockey”, to whom this weekly list number (9) is dedicated.

Marleau piled up 199 points over two Western Hockey League seasons with the T-Birds from 1995-’97 before being selected 2nd-overall in the NHL Draft behind his eventual teammate Joe Thornton.

On November 3rd, Seattle’s WHL club will retire Marleau’s jersey number-12. San Jose hoisted it to the rafters of the “Shark Tank” back in February.

Small hockey world: I was standing along the end of the bench and in the runway at the then Bank of America Centre in Boise, Idaho as an off-duty broadcaster watching Marleau play his first preseason game of his rookie season in the fall of 1997.

Darryl Sutter coached the Sharks. The Los Angeles Kings were the opponent with head coach Larry Robinson.

The brand new arena was still having the finishing touches put on and that included the ice. It wasn’t completely cured, sections were soft or breaking free, and the first ever hockey event in the new building was almost cancelled due to concerns about player safety. The coaches agreed to play and they managed to pull it off.

Marleau’s first ever regular season game was at home on October 1st, 1997 against the Edmonton Oilers.

*Trivia; with the answer at bottom of the page: Marleau becomes the second player in Seattle Thunderbirds franchise history to have his number retired. Who was first? (Hint: number-10)

2) We occasionally will show off some of the social media exploits of the Kraken, while also sharing tidbits of information regarding the Kraken’s top farm team in Coachella Valley, California.

The Firebirds have their own fun social media thing going, including a program called “Tenny’s Talks”.

It’s the theatre of the absurd, which is always fine with us. Here’s a link to the latest episode, featuring host Matt Tennyson, defenseman Ryker Evans as “Garth”, and their guest, captain Max McCormick.

3) Speaking of fun social media, or in this case profound, our pal Piper Shaw has prepped some new tunes. The Kraken’s TV ice level reporter is also a prodigious song writer, who frequently has her material played at the Climate Pledge Arena. Good on ya, Piper!

4) In the first game of the 2023 World Junior Summer Showcase on Saturday afternoon, Team Sweden romped over USA Blue by the score of 7-0. Seattle Kraken 2023 6th-round draft pick Zeb Forsfjäll tallied a goal and a minor penalty in the 2nd period. The lefty center was taken 180th-overall at the NHL Draft in Nashville in late June.

In the 2nd game, Team Finland defeated USA White by a score of 4-2. Kraken 2022 2nd-rounder, goalie Niklas Kokko (featured yesterday), made 22 saves and picked up the victory. Fellow Kraken prospect Visa Vedenpää dressed as his back-up.

Jani Nyman, one of the Kraken’s 2nd-rounders from 2022, didn’t contribute a point. The big lefty winger did pick up a minor penalty for tripping late in the 1st period.

The showcase event continues in Plymouth, Michigan with two games on Monday.

5) I dug up the ticket stub from the December 2nd, 1992 game at Madison Square Garden that featured the second Tie Domi vs. Bob Probert fight, lovingly referred to as “Domi-Probert II”, and featured in here last week.

Screen Shot 2023 07 30 at 2.28.35 PM

6) Unfortunately for the 2nd consecutive week, we find ourselves reporting on a significant NHL passing. Rocky Wirtz, owner and chairman of the Chicago Blackhawks, died suddenly this past week at age-70.

Wirtz took over the club upon the death of his father Bill Wirtz in 2007 and is credited with “opening the franchise back up”. Among other things, the elder Wirtz refused to show the team’s home games on television during his tenure running the club.

Rocky also enjoyed some fortuitous timing, taking over just as the Blackhawks were drafting the likes of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews and beginning their run to three Stanley Cups over six seasons.

“Not only was Rocky Wirtz a great man and humble to the core, he was extremely loyal and generous to everyone, but especially to us players,” Kane said in a statement. “He always made sure everything was first class for us. That mattered to him, just like winning and just like his family. My sympathy to his wife Marilyn, to his son Danny, and the entire Wirtz and Blackhawks family.”

Another serendipitous event for Rocky was the NHL bringing the Winter Classic to Wrigley Field in Chicago in 2009. It was the 2nd year of the event and the first one held in a historic ball park. Simmer with Toews and Kane is down below.

7) In much happier NHL news, unless you’re the University of Minnesota, 2022 3rd-overall NHL Draft pick Logan Cooley has decided to forego his sophomore year at “The U” and play professionally after signing his three-year entry-level deal with the Arizona Coyotes.

Of course, he’ll still get to play in a college rink. That’s kind of a joke around the NHL, but personally I can’t wait to get down to Tempe and see a Kraken – Yotes game in the friendly confines of the 5,000 seat Mullett Arena at Arizona State.

Among family and others, Cooley said he consulted with current Coyotes star forward Clayton Keller, another former 1st-rounder and college hockey alum’.

8) Former Seattle Kraken D-man Carson Soucy is prepping for his first season with the Vancouver Canucks and there’s a chance he could partner with star puck mover Quinn Hughes. Earlier in July, Soucy commented on the possibility.

“Obviously Quinn Hughes is one of the best defencemen in the NHL, so it will be cool to play with him every now and again on a couple shifts,” Soucy told the club’s website. “I’ll obviously keep the puck in his hands, he’ll make the right plays. It’s always been very competitive every time I’ve played against them, the year before they obviously had our number I think, especially in Seattle, so I do think they’re a good competitive team.”

Not exactly smack talk. Doubt we’ll hear it. But we will see the rivalry pick up. Soucy’s first regular season game against his former Kraken mates is November 18th in Vancouver.

9) Gordie Howe began his career wearing number-17 as a rookie with the Detroit Red Wings for the 1946-’47 season. Besides the 1,767 NHL games he played, the first 1,687 with Detroit, he also tucked in another 419 in the upstart World Hockey Association (WHA) between 1973 and 1979, playing many of those games with his sons Marty and Mark.

Howe returned to the NHL in 1979 for one season with the Hartford Whalers when the leagues merged and he played 80 games as a 51-year-old, tallying 15 goals and 41 points.

— *Trivia Answer: Remarkably prodigious scorer Glen Goodall, still the holder of many WHL records, had his number-10 sweater hoisted by the Thuderbirds in 1990, not long after finishing his final junior season with 163 points.

Attachment …

The aforementioned video …

With this in mind, Toews was cool and kind enough to do a one-on-one, morning skate, on-cam hit with Simmer three games before the end of his Blackhawks career, exclusively for Seattle Hockey Insider and our Kraken coverage.

Part of the official announcement of the 2009 NHL Winter Classic at Wrigley Field.

Rob Simpson

Rob Simpson has covered the NHL in five different decades. He’s authored 4 books on hockey and is a veteran TV and radio play-by-play man and reporter.