Kraken Game Absence
Greetings. I’m in Toronto at the moment enjoying the festivities surrounding the 2023 Hockey Hall of Fame induction on Monday evening. It’s a full elongated weekend of hockey joy joy complete with some booze and shmooze.
Congratulations to inductees: Three goalies, Mike Vernon, Henrik Lundqvist, Tom Barrasso, forward Pierre Turgeon, Canadian women’s player Caroline Quellette, former junior and NHL coach Ken Hitchcock, and late builder and Avalanche GM Pierre Lacroix.
Simmer’s Sunday 9:
1) I occasionally ponder if there’s something about the Kraken’s game presentation that’s off-putting for some or all of the players. I have no idea what that might be specifically and I won’t offer up suggestions. This is pure speculation, trying to take a gander at any or all potential reasons for consistently flat stretches of hockey by the home team at Climate Pledge Arena, including psychological ones.
Any other ideas?
2) I had planned on speaking to Kraken winger Jaden Schwartz this next week about growing up in Saskatchewan and playing hockey with his older sister and brother, but that’s on hold now that Schwartz appeared on “After Hours” on “Hockey Night in Canada”, the postgame interview segment on Saturday night.
The topic would have been his sister Mandi, who played hockey at Yale and passed away from leukemia in 2011, a story I remember speaking about while hosting “NHL Live” (then a radio show on TV) in New York City, when none-other-than Eddie Olczyk was a frequent contributor by phone.
Olczyk was part of the segment with Schwartz last night.
It’s a small hockey world.
Anyway, for now I’ll spare Schwartz another rehash of this sensitive topic. (See item 9 below)
He did score the Kraken’s lone goal against the Oilers and extend his point streak to a career best nine games.
3) Whatever happened to those investigations being conducted by the London, Ontario police department and Hockey Canada relating to the criminal sexual assault scandal and case involving the Canada’s 2018 World Junior team? The players involved would all be in the National Hockey League right now. Hmm, maybe I just answered my own question.
4) In women’s hockey, the Rivalry Series continued Saturday with the United States defeating Canada’s national team 5-2. The Americans also won the match-up on November 8th, 3-1.
The series continues on December 14th in Kitchener, Ontario with games staggered throughout the calendar into February. The US has dominated these match-ups the last couple of years, but the only thing that will ultimately matter on the world stage is if that success translates to victory at the Winter Olympics in Italy in 2026.
The Canadian women have won the Olympic Gold Medal in 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014, and 2022. The US won in 1998 and 2014.
5) The Vancouver Canucks had their nine-game point streak (8-0-and-1) ended by the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Saturday night in a 5-2 final while the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Kings 4-2 to end LA’s eight game point streak (6-0-and-2).
With the defending Stanley Cup champion Golden Knights off to a hot start, Vegas, Vancouver, and Los Angeles are trying to run off with the three automatic Pacific Division playoff spots.
The Kraken presently sit 12 points out of first place and six points out of third.
6) Trivia slot: I mentioned this in a story earlier in the week. Quick — name the four NHL teams that don’t have a plural ‘s’ on the end of their nicknames. Answer at the bottom of this list.
7) I have a plethora of Hockey Hall of Fame memories from over the years. Two leap out.
About three years after writing a biography about linesman Ray Scapinello, better known as “Scampy”, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame as an official in 2008. He invited me to sit in the 2nd row with his family for the induction ceremony and take part in all of the other behind-the-scenes activities. It was a generous gift from one of the all-time greats and it was delight to spend time with his wonderful family and friends.
Among other distinctions, Scampy will forever hold the record for NHL games. He skated in 2,500 of them in the regular season and 426 more in the playoffs. He earned his way to an astounding 21 Stanley Cup Final appearances.
Growing up a Red Wings fans and idolizing the great Gordie Howe, 2011 was a tear jerker. That’s when his son Mark Howe was inducted. Gordie was in the front row, already experiencing some effects from dementia, but well aware of the proceedings. Near the end of his speech, Mark reached down, opened a bag he had brought on stage, and pulled out a Howe #9 jersey.
His father had wanted him to wear the number as a player, but Mark wouldn’t do it. He took the opportunity at his induction to finally put it on as an ode to his father and said “thank you dad”.
I was blessed and honored to get to know both Howes and interact with them on a number of occasions over the years, including at Hall of Fame parties. Gordie passed away in 2016 a few years prior to Mark retiring as a Philly-based pro scout for the Red Wings.
8) This just in: the Oilers fired head coach Jay Woodcroft on Sunday and replaced him with New York Rangers AHL head coach Kris Knoblauch. Edmonton has played this season as if they wanted a coaching change, reminiscent of the Canucks play ahead of Travis Green getting the boot two seasons ago and Sidney Crosby and the Penguins’ bizarre performances ahead of Mike Johnston getting fired 28 games into the 2015-’16 season.
Assistant coach Dave Manson was also fired, replaced by Paul Coffey. Nothing like sliding an Oilers legend in there for good measure.
9) Kraken forward Jaden Schwartz wore number-9 his first two seasons in the NHL with the St. Louis Blues. He switched to number-17 to honor his older sister Mandi, who passed away from acute myeloid leukemia in April of 2011. Mandi wore 17 with Yale University when she was a three-time Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) all-academic player. The disease forced her to quit hockey after that third season.
— Trivia Answer: Lightning, Wild, Kraken, and Avalanche.
— Thud! The Kraken Fall Easily At Home To The Oilers
— Simmer’s Kraken Sunday 9 (last week); Scoring Slump, Goalie Secrets, Bobble John