The Kraken are pretty generous about allowing fans into the Kraken Community Iceplex rink for team practices and other events during the course of the season. Moving forward, when fans arrive, they’ll be seeing something a bit different and a lot more dramatic.
The Kraken practice rink used to have huge head shots of individual Seattle players above each section of the seating area. Recently that artwork has been upgraded, according to Kraken social media, with dramatic shots of players and celebratory moments. I’m looking forward to seeing it in person soon.
As is often the case, I couldn’t re-find the long-range picture of the new rink walls on instagram, as it disappeared. If you can find it, or see it, respond with the link here in the comments section or on twitter/X @simmerpuck. Thank you.
Time For The 9
1) August transactions are rare in the National Hockey League, but we had another one this past week involving the Buffalo Sabres and Anaheim Ducks. The Sabres traded 29-year-old Russian defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin to the Ducks for a 4th-round 2025 NHL Draft pick.
The right-hander plays a hard nosed, stay-at-home game and is coming off a career high season of two goals and 14 points. His salary cap hit is $2.75-million for one more year.
2) Here’s another poignant moment following the passing of legendary Buffalo Sabres play-by-play man Rick Jeanneret at age 81 on Thursday. Emotional Sabres game night TV hosts Brian Duff and Marty Biron on “Sabres Live” with guest Mike “Doc” Emrick, a broadcasting legend in his own right.
3) In women’s hockey, there were two three-game series overlapping this past week in Lake Placid, New York. In the Under-18 match-up between the Canadian and American programs, the young Team Canada ladies finished off a sweep of the three game set with a 5-2 win on Saturday.
In a match-up involving the slightly older group, with what’s called the US Collegiate Select Team and Canada’s National Women’s Development Team, the results were just the opposite with the Americans finishing off a three-game sweep with a 4-3 victory on Saturday.
4) This week’s gratuitous cross promotion: We have done 9 “Seattle Kraken Roll Calls” thus far, evaluating the returning players for this season. We’ll continue them this week until every player gets a look. Here are the 9 links for your perusal.
— Seattle Kraken Roll Call: Alexander Wennberg
— Seattle Kraken Roll Call: Jamie Oleksiak
— Seattle Kraken Roll Call: Matty Beniers
— Seattle Kraken Roll Call: Philipp Grubauer
— Seattle Kraken Roll Call: Andre Burakovsky
— Seattle Kraken Roll Call: Yanni Gourde
— Seattle Kraken Roll Call: Jaden Schwartz
— Seattle Kraken Roll Call: Will Borgen
— Seattle Kraken Roll Call: Eeli Tolvanen
5) Did you miss the NHL coaching shuffle? There are six head coaches in new positions around the league this summer, with three of them holding a bench boss job in the big show for the first time.
The three with previous experience are Mike Babcock, now leading the Columbus Blue Jackets, Peter Laviolette, who will guide the New York Rangers, and Andrew Brunette, new coach of the Nashville Predators.
“Babs” won a Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings in 2008 after losing in the Final in 2003 with the Anaheim Ducks. He coached the Wings until 2015 when he took over the bench for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was fired by the Leafs in 2019 and spent the next four years quietly collecting what was remaining of his ridiculous $50-million, eight-year contract. Ridiculous because the Leafs “won”, or is it lost, a bidding war for his services and the tenure was obviously a failure.
Laviolette won a Stanley Cup coaching the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006. He’s one of only four coaches in league history to lead three different teams to the Final, his other successful stops being the Philadelphia Flyers and the Nashville Predators. As a player the left-shot defenseman made it to the NHL for just 12 games, all of them with the Rangers. He’s the all-time winningest American-born coach in NHL history.
Brunette’s past tenure as an NHL head man was a bit odd, but then again, the Florida Panthers have a history of very strange decision making when it comes to head coaches. Some day we’ll review the Gerard Gallant to Tom Rowe story. Technically as an “interim” head coach, Brunette took over for suspended head coach Joel Quenneville, yet another story (see number-7 below), and went 51-18-and-6 during the 2021-’22 season, winning the Presidents Trophy for the best record in the league. He was replaced after losing in the playoffs by Paul Maurice.
The first timers hired this off-season: Greg Cronin to the Anaheim Ducks, Ryan Huska with the Calgary Flames, and Spencer Carbery to the Washington Capitals. More on the newbies’ bio’s next week.
6) Here’s your quickie quiz for this week with the answer at the bottom of the page: Who were those other three coaches in league history besides Laviolette to take three (or more) different teams to the Stanley Cup Final?
7) Florida coach Quenneville and Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman resigned in late 2021 for ignoring and covering-up a sex scandal dating back to 2010 involving Chicago’s video coach when the club was en route to winning the Stanley Cup. It appears the two are looking to be re-instated by the league and given the opportunity to work again, having met certain requirements instituted by the NHL.
League Commissioner Gary Bettman seemed to indicate earlier this summer that the moment for Quenneville’s return wasn’t quite right and there was still work to be done or discussions to be had. I would expect you’ll see “Coach Q”, the 2nd winningest head coach in NHL history, back behind a bench no later than the start of the 2024-’25 season.
8) Along those same lines, whatever happened to Hockey Canada’s investigation into sex scandals involving two different World Junior Championship Team Canada squads, one from 2018 and another from 2003. Hockey Canada apparently finished its investigation of the 2018 incident nine months ago, but was awaiting the conclusion of the London (Ontario) Police Service’s parallel investigation.
Recent chatter suggests five current NHL players could be suspended for their role in an assault that apparently took place after a WJC gala in that host city.
An investigation into the 2003 team has gone utterly quiet.
Following the revelations last summer of cover-ups and hush money being paid to multiple victims since 1989, Hockey Canada has undergone a massive reorganization.
9) Gordie Howe, hockey’s most famous number-9, won the Hart Trophy as the NHL MVP six times and the Art Ross Trophy as the scoring champ’ six times. He finished in the top-ten in NHL scoring 21 consecutive seasons and won the Stanley Cup four times.
— Trivia answer: The three other coaches to take at least three different teams to the Stanley Cup Final include Scotty Bowman (Stan’s dad), who actually took four teams to the ultimate series. He lost three consecutive times beginning in 1968 with the St. Louis Blues, won five Cups with the Montreal Canadiens, one with the Pittsburgh Penguins and three more with the Detroit Red Wings. Besides holding that record of nine Stanley Cups as a head coach, he’s also the winningest regular season coach in NHL history.
Mike Keenan coached the Philadelphia Flyers, Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers to the Final, winning in 1994 with the Broadway Blueshirts.
Dick Irvin coached three different Original Six teams to the Final, the Blackhawks, Maple Leafs, and Canadiens. He won four Stanley Cups in a career that ended in 1956.