The ‘mayor’ of Coachella Valley, Joey Daccord, is now officially a member of the Seattle Kraken.
The Boston-born, five-year veteran of professional hockey became a bit of a folk hero last spring with his stalwart, sometimes heroic, effort between the pipes in the Calder Cup playoffs for the first-year Firebirds.
Sunday morning he found himself looking across at his new goaltending partner Philipp Grubauer during short-ice 3-on-3 drills, although Daccord didn’t officially find out about his new gig until after practice. That’s when Kraken General Manager Ron Francis and head coach Dave Hakstol broke the good news.
Daccord kidded about being able to figure things out during a post-practice media session.
“I thought things were looking pretty good when there were only two goalies on the ice,” he said to laughter.
Original Kraken back-up Chris Driedger and his $3.5-million salary cap hit, in the final year of his Seattle contract, were placed on waivers for assignment to those American Hockey League Firebirds.
With the maneuver Seattle’s back-up goaltending costs are practically a wash.
Daccord is set to make $1.2-million this season. The Kraken save $1.1-million off Driedgers’s full cap hit by waiving him. If another NHL team claims the 29-year-old, then obviously Seattle saves the whole enchilada, $3.5-million.
Including the playoffs, Daccord played in 71 games last season, a very large number by modern standards. The ‘short summer’ helped with increased focus.
“I just think as you get older and more experienced you just feel more prepared,” he said before chuckling. “Honestly, last season didn’t end too long ago, so I just tried to keep it rolling from last year. It was a pretty good end of the season other than losing. For myself it was pretty good.”
The Firebirds lost the deciding Game-7 of the Calder Cup Final to the Hershey Bears in overtime on June 21st.
Daccord says bouncing back with the proper mental element of preparation carried him through this successful training camp.
“Honestly, just trusting myself,” he stated. “I think back still to when I signed my first NHL contract out of school and I played in the NHL four days later. I can’t believe how unprepared I was back then and playing in the NHL, so now starting my fifth year, just the self-belief. Just the self confidence, the self belief, knowing that I’m good enough to be out here with these guys and just trying to have fun every single day and enjoy every moment. Just drawing on those experiences.”
“Joey’s path obviously is a little bit different, as a goaltender, that maturation process” Hakstol said Sunday. “Coming through last year for a goaltender, his pathway, his ability to continue to grow his game, help us along the way, what he was able to do last year was really important in the process. But most importantly for those two guys (forward Tye Kartye being the other), you have to come to camp over the last 17 days and you have to earn a spot and they both did that.”
Daccord appeared in five games in both of the last two seasons with the Kraken, last season going 2-1-and-1 with a 3.14 goals against average and a save percentage right at 90%. Those numbers were a vast improvement over his earlier stint, and solid considering the situation he was thrown into. The bottom line was the win column, picking up five points out of a possible eight, with one mop-up relief appearance on April 10th when he didn’t face at shot.
“Joey got some games last year, looked a lot more comfortable,” Francis said Sunday. “He’s arguably been the best or one of the best goaltenders in the American League the last two years, handles the puck extremely well, came in and had a really strong camp, I think he only gave up one goal in the exhibition games. He earned the opportunity.”
One could easily argue Daccord had a stronger training camp than Grubauer, which means Kraken fans may see him playing sooner than later.
— Simmer’s 9; Kraken Line-up, Sleds, Waivers, Pod