McDavid, Kraken Donato

Simmer’s Sunday 9; Kraken Hole, Hot Canucks, A Man Stamped

Kraken Crevice

The Kraken are on the verge of two things: Either digging themselves a hole that will be too deep to climb out of, or righting the ship and beginning a climb up the standings into November.

Nine games into the season after Saturday night’s loss in Florida, Seattle’s record is 2-5-and-2.

That said, it’s important not to panic or get too excited this early in the season. In the case of the Toronto Maple Leafs for example, there’s an old joke about “planning the parade route on Yonge Street” anytime that club gets off to a good start.

That’s because there’s been no parade there since 1967.

For the opposite extreme, one just needs to look at the 2018-’19 St. Louis Blues. Dead last in the NHL around the holidays, the Blues rallied to become Stanley Cup champs six months later, beating the Boston Bruins in the Cup Final in seven games.

We’ll just take a chill pill for now regarding the Kraken and the rest of the NHL for that matter. It’ll also give Seattle General Manager Ron Francis an opportunity to potentially start considering outside solutions, should the need arise.

Simmer’s Sunday 9:

1) The Kraken have blown two goal leads in three consecutive games. They managed to come back and win in overtime in Detroit after giving up a 3-1 lead in the 3rd period, but then lost in both Carolina and Florida after taking 2-0 leads. That’s a bad habit they’ll want to break very quickly.

2) Our sincere condolences to family, friends and hockey cohorts of former NHLer Adam Johnson, who died following an on-ice skate blade incident at a game in Britain on Saturday while playing for the Nottingham Panthers.

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3) Based on my screwy schedule, there will be no “Simmer and Forslund” podcast with John Forslund this week and no “Simmer and Gabby” podcast with Bruce Boudreau as well. Sorry about that. My bad.

Lots of happy happy, joy joy and of course some hard core insider information returning next week.

4) The Vancouver Canucks, the Kraken rivals due north, are off to a sterling start and find themselves trailing only the Vegas Golden Knights in the Pacific Division standings. The Canucks moved to 5-2-and-1 on the young season with a 5-0 victory on Friday against the St. Louis Blues and a 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Rangers the next night, with the back-to-back set held at Rogers Arena.

1st-line center Elias Pettersson has 13 points in eight games played while 2nd-line center J.T. Miller has 12. The club is getting solid netminding from both Thatcher Demko and Casey DeSmith.

The top line features the chemistry of Russian wingers Andrei Kuzmenko, a 39-goal man last season, and a now healthy Ilya Mikheyev.

The Canucks are getting depth scoring as well, something enjoyed by the Kraken last season.

5) The Battle of Alberta turns colder Sunday evening as the NHL holds the 7th edition of the Heritage Classic, a sporadic series of special event outdoor games featuring all Canadian teams plus one visit from the just-across-the-border Buffalo Sabres.

After missing two games due to an upper body injury, Oilers captain Connor McDavid is expected back in the line-up as his club takes on the Calgary Flames at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton. It was the site of the first ever NHL regular season game to be played outdoors in modern times, featuring a 4-3 win for the Montreal Canadiens over the OIlers back in 2003. More than 51,000 fans were on hand to watch.

The success of the event spurred the creation of the NHL Winter Classic on New Year’s Day in 2008, an annual tradition that continues south of the border.

The last Heritage classic saw the Sabres beat the Maple Leafs 5-2 in Hamilton, Ontario on March 13, 2022.

6) Trivia slot: Who’s the Kraken’s all-time leader in penalty minutes?

7) Willie O’Ree is getting his own postage stamp.

Canada Post unveiled a commemorative stamp this week honoring O’Ree, who became the first Black player to perform in the NHL when he debuted with the Boston Bruins against the Montreal Canadiens on January 18, 1958.

While that groundbreaking moment was of course monumental, O’Ree’s dedication to community, expanding the game, and his kind, friendly nature is what really stands out. I’ve had the privilege of interviewing him and just chatting with him on numerous occasions and there is no kinder, gentler soul.

Congratulations Willie.

8) The Boston Bruins, 7-0-and-1, and the Vegas Golden Knights, 8-0-and-1, remain undefeated in regulation this season. The Bruins host the Panthers and the VGK host the Canadiens on Monday night.

9) We always honor the legends who have donned number-9 in this slot, but how about the Kraken’s number-9?

That would be Ryan Donato. He departed via free agency this summer and his number remains unclaimed in Seattle. In two seasons with the club, Donato finished with 30 goals and 28 assists.

The current fourth line could use a little bit of that scoring.

Donato is in his 8th NHL season and has two goals and two assists for the Chicago Blackhawks in eight games thus far. The amiable 27-year-old has seen time on a line with burgeoning star and 1st-overall 2023 NHL Draft pick Connor Bedard.

— Trivia answer: Center Yanni Gourde is the Kraken’s all-time leading penalty minutes man with 137, just ahead of defenseman Jamie Oleksiak who has 132.


— Even The Rink Conspires Against The Kraken In 3-2 Loss To Panthers

An encore of last week’s very educational “Simmer and Gabby” podcast …

“Simmer and Gabby” Week 4.

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.