Johnny Bucyk, Kraken Philipp Grubauer

Simmer’s Sunday 9: Kraken Radio? Retirees; HHOF’ers

Kraken Yappers

We’re a bit surprised that we haven’t heard the announcement yet as to the new color commentator who will work alongside Everett Fitzhugh on Kraken radio this coming season, replacing Dave Tomlinson who moved back north of the border. We know the newbie won’t be the best person/man for the gig 😃*, but we wish them all the best regardless and expect they’ll do a terrific job.

In the meantime …

The 9:

1) Let’s get the countdown out of the way early. Can you believe it; one week until the start of Kraken rookie camp in some way, shape or form, whether it’s the off-ice or on-ice portion remains to be seen. Based on NHL regular training camp calendar guidelines, it can’t be much longer than seven or eight days before things get cranking.

No official Kraken announcement yet.

The Vancouver Canucks, Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers prospects get their round robin “Young Stars” event started in Penticton, BC on the 15th.

The Kraken prospects are going it alone for at least one more year until the consistent depth charts become a bit more robust and arrangements for something more elaborate can be planned in advance for coming years.

2) I’ve often pointed out over the years that if Kevin Bacon’s “6-degrees of separation” applies to the world’s general population, then it’s 2-degrees for the hockey world. It’s ultimately not that big a community.

In other words, if I don’t know the coach of a junior team, there’s a good chance we both know at least one person in common, and that applies across the board, especially for anyone who’s been around at least a couple decades or more.

That concept popped into my head this past week when NHL defenseman Michael Del Zotto retired, because I crossed paths with him during his career at the very beginning, middle, and end.

I recall watching him and talking to him in Traverse City, Michigan in 2009 when he was named tournament MVP at that annual September rookie event playing with the Rangers prospects. He then went on to take Madison Square Garden and New York by storm his first season. What followed was a career of ups and downs; I don’t recall how much was off-ice related, but that’s none of my business anyway.

Later, it just so happens that Del Zotto was buddies with our co-producer and board operator Mike Lippa for our “Stellick and Simmer” morning radio show for four years on SiriusXM NHL Network Radio.

What made it particularly fun was that he joined us on the show as a guest by phone a couple of times and graced us with his presence in person at the then ACC in Toronto for the recording of a weekly comedy/trivia bit called “Three Questions With Simmer”.

Finally, while covering the 2019 Stanley Cup Final in Boston, I ran into MDZ during one of the intermissions of Game-2. He was one of St. Louis’s reserve defenseman and we chatted for the entire break. Great conversation, great guy, and it kind of put a bow on the whole thing for me, especially the radio show tie-in.

Happy for him that he ended up with 736 NHL games played and happy for him that he ended up with his name on the Stanley Cup that year after the Blues won it.

3) The nickname spelling quandary: After I posted some social media from a Kraken informal skate this week showing Seattle goalie Philipp Grubauer taking the ice, I had more than one fan correct my nickname spelling of “Grooby” to “Grubi”, because “that’s the way he spells it”.

I tend to spell nicknames phonetically so that there’s no confusion, particularly for new fans.

I’m pretty sure “Grooby” can only be interpreted one way. “Grubi” could be pronounced “Grubby” or “Grub-eye”, to those unfamiliar with the moniker.

Other challenges exist. I have no idea if I spell Vancouver Canucks forward Elias Pettersson’s nickname “Petey” correctly. I guess it could be “Petie”. I think I had one or two people comment on it a couple of years ago, I don’t recall the specifics. But which way to go there? Is either way confusing?

Then there’s the less obvious. Recent Boston Bruins retiree David Krejci’s nickname is “Kraych”. It’s phonetic because it has to be. In the first place, a lot of fans here and elsewhere wouldn’t know that his actual name is pronounced “Kray-chee” by looking at Krejci.

Bruins alum’ Terry O’Reilly’s nickname: “Taz”. Can’t screw that up, but Ray Bourque’s: “Borkie”, am I supposed to spell it “Bourquie”? Don’t think so.

Finally, Patrick Kane’s nickname is “Kaner”, while Kraken forward Jared McCann’s is “Canner”. Is that how we spell it?

I’m leaving the jury out on this decision, Grooby/Grubi that is, until we get a bit closer to the start of play. I will consult the media kangaroo court.

4) Fresh off the presses on Sunday; long-time NHL forward Andrew Ladd announced his retirement after 16 seasons and some injury issues during the latter stages. Ladd won a Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes his rookie season in 2006 and then another with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010.

The 37-year-old Maple Ridge, BC native ended up playing for five different NHL franchises, just barely eclipsing the 1000-games played plateau (1,001) by playing 51 games with the Arizona Coyotes in 2021-’22.

Ladd was the first ever captain of the new Winnipeg Jets incarnation when the club moved from being the Atlanta Thrashers in 2011. He had been traded from Chicago for salary cap reasons the year before and became the captain of the team in Dixie.

Ladd also garnered quite a bit of attention when he inked a five-year deal with the New York Islanders in 2016 for $5.5-million per season. That was cray-cray cash at the time for a 30-year-old with limited production.
More power to him. Ladd’s definitely set in retirement and he’s had his named etched on the chalice twice.

Congratulations and all the best.

5) The US Hockey Hall of Fame announced its inductees for 2023 and they include 18-year Los Angeles King and two-time Stanley Cup winner Dustin Brown.

He’ll be joined in Boston at a December ceremony by his fellow honorees, longtime NHL executive Brian Burke, two-time Cup winning forwad Jamie Langenbrunner, Boston College women’s hockey coach Katie King Crowley and retired NHL official Brian Murphy.

Speaking of 2-degrees of separation, I’ve got some dandy thoughts and stories about three of these folks that we’ll pass along in the coming weeks leading up to their induction.


By the way, it’s off the beaten track, but the US HHOF in Evelyth, Minnesota is well worth the trip.

6) Trivia time. Which one of these Kraken is new acquisition Brian Dumoulin. Call it a visual daily double. Answer at the bottom of the page above the video.

Kraken A)


Kraken B)


Kraken C)


Kraken D)


Kraken E)


Kraken F)

720 2

7) Not sure what’s going on with’s re-design, but a lot of the normal features are not available. The guts of the site have been messed up for a few days. Hopefully the migration of material is cleaned up and ready to rock by the start of training camps.

So no, it’s not the fault of your computer/browser.

8) Congratulations to NHL referee Dan O’Rourke for completing a six-week bicycle trip from California to Illinois to raise money for the National Federation of the Blind. He wrapped up the journey just in time to start officials preseason training camp. The 50-year-old, 23-year NHL officiating veteran made the journey with his father and grandfather in mind, both of whom suffered from vision loss.

Thus far O’Rourke had raised close to $50K for the cause and hopes to continue garnering support.

9) Johnny Bucyk is old school. His number-9 hangs from the rafters at TD Garden in Boston. For decades, he was the all-time leading scorer among left-wingers in NHL history, since topped only by Alexander Ovechkin and Luc Robitaille.

“Chief” as he’s forever been called, mistaken as First Nation despite being an Albertan of Ukrainian descent, played more than 1,500 NHL games and scored 556 goals and tallied 813 assists.

Off the ice, simply a great guy to be around and learn from … just don’t be late. Bucyk was the Bruins travel coordinator into his 80’s. I travelled with the B’s on all the buses and on the charter for three seasons and believe me, you were never late for the bus. If you were, the bus would be gone already.

You simply didn’t mess with the Chief, his rules, and the protocols.

The most fun was getting to play golf with him. I still have a Johnny Bucyk monikered golf ball.

Bucyk is retired, hanging around Boston at age-88. The last of the original great number-9’s.

By the way, many or most Bruins fans don’t realize this, but before his 21 seasons in Boston, Bucyk played his first two NHL seasons with the Detroit Red Wings, wearing number-20, getting a chance to skate with his hero Gordie Howe.

“He’s still my hero,” Bucyk told me in 2009.

Mine too, Chief.

Trivia Answer:

More like current events. First of all, if you answered “F”, thirty lashes. That’s former Kraken goalie Martin Jones.

“A” is veteran forward Jaden Schwartz. “B” is new Kraken forward and former Spokane Chief Kailer Yamamoto. “C” is Dumoulin, the new defenseman. “D” is Matty Beniers and “E” is Alexander Wennberg, both centers.

((* Editor’s note: The use of an emoji typically would result in a fine to the writer, but in this case the writer is me, so I’d be fining myself. No comment on the “best person for the job”. 🤔))

Last Week’s 9:

— Simmer’s Holiday 9: Kraken Deals; SEA Primetime Pucks

Bonus video from this past week of Kraken informal skates.

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.
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7 months ago

The Johnny Bucyk story is exactly the kind of content that makes the off-season bearable. Very cool.