Here’s hoping your holiday season has been bright and delightful, your dreams are full of Kraken pucks entering the net, and your 2024 is full of health, happiness and prosperity.
Simmer’s Kraken Holiday 9
1) It’s not often one gets to say “I’ll be commuting to the ball park on the train” in December, but that will be the case the next few days as we get closer and closer to the NHL Winter Classic at T-Mobile Park.
I’ll be taking a look at the rink preparation process on Wednesday, going for a skate with the media on Saturday, watching the Kraken and Golden Knights practice on Sunday and then hitting the game on New Year’s Day.
The chance to go for a spin on the ice is always nice, but no media skate has compared to the actual media hockey game we played in Ann Arbor at Michigan Stadium a couple of days ahead of the 2014 Winter Classic between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs.
An NHL executive was the ref’ for our game.
The media match was a festive tilt featuring a number of folks from the region who actually played hockey. The WC itself that year drew 105,491 fans on a bitter cold day following a big snowstorm.
It was particularly cool because I grew up going to Michigan football games there, and yes, I am hoping for a Michigan/Washington national championship game this time around. Go Huskies and M-GO-BLUE!
2) Aside from running into him and chatting at the annual Hockey Hall of Fame activities in Toronto, for whatever reason, about once a year I have the pleasure of speaking to Scotty Bowman on the phone for about 45-minutes.
Whether it’s to get comments for a book or to ask random questions about someone in the game, it doesn’t matter, the NHL’s all-time winningest coach has insightful answers. We usually cover a lot of ground on topics he brings up, it’s always entertaining and educational, and of course for me a distinct pleasure.
Last week I ended up hearing his thoughts on the pros and cons of 1-1-3 or 1-3-1 neutral zone alignments. old school referees. the incredible skating of Sergei Fedorov and how the Red Wings used him as a defenseman for a stint, stick fouls, Dit Clapper compared to Eddie Shore, rookie Leo Carlsson of the Ducks, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, and who makes the playoffs in the East.
He’s a 90-year-old hockey savant.
3) The 2024 World Junior Championship is underway in Sweden with Team USA defeating Norway 4-1 in their preliminary round opener on Tuesday. Defending champion Team Canada handled a tough Finnish squad 5-2.
Top Seattle Kraken prospect Shane Wright was the captain of the Canadian club that won the Gold Medal last year.
The tournament is a national TV spectacle north of the border with all games being televised on TSN in Canada. I worked a couple of the events with that crew years ago and it’s a special experience. The on and off-air group are like family, led by their patriarch of sorts, Paul Graham, more commonly known as “PG”, overseeing the excellent production.
4) Remarkably, and somewhat comically, I’m still not allowed in the press box at Rogers Arena for Vancouver Canucks games. The ban is now 452 days old. Of course, when I asked why, I was originally told “we don’t have to tell you”.
I’m now told it’s because there’s no room for me in the press box and I’m not qualified. Fascinating. An entertaining update on this full story is coming shortly. It’ll include actual audio of the club’s PR guy lying and threatening to blackmail me.
Welcome to the incestuous, middle school calibre world of Canucks media relations, which apparently, and again remarkably, has the support of Jim Rutherford, President of Hockey Operations, whom I first met covering the NHL a couple/few decades ago.
5) This is super cool. It’s from December 8th; sorry I’m just getting to it now. Canucks captain Quinn Hughes’s grandfather was a New York City firefighter for three decades. This doesn’t matter which team you’re a fan of …
6) Trivia Time: Who did the Seattle Metropolitans beat 3-games-to-1 when they won the Stanley Cup in 1917? (answer at bottom above video)
7) Look who’s snuck on to one of NHL’s statistical leader boards: None other than Kraken goalie Joey Daccord. His 2.53 goals against average for the season is good for 10th best in the NHL. Along the way getting to that number he picked up his first career shut-out on December 12th at home against the Florida Panthers.
8) The Kraken are back in action on Thursday night in Calgary against the Flames, looking to extend the team’s season-best six-game point streak (4-0-and-2). Seattle last lost in regulation on December 10th, 3-0 to the Minnesota Wild at Climate Pledge Arena
The Kraken have moved to within three points of the 2nd wild card playoff spot in the Western Conference, the drawback being the fact that the club has played more games than all of the other wild card contenders. Seattle has also played five more games than the LA Kings, the 3rd place team in the Pacific Division.
9) The first great number-9 in hockey was Maurice “Rocket” Richard, who played for the Montreal Canadiens from 1942 to 1960. The Hockey Hall of Famer tallied 966 points in 978 career games and racked up more than 1,200 penalty minutes. The NHL schedule only consisted of 50 games per season when he entered the league, bumped up to 60 in 1946, and then jumped to 70 games per team in 1949.
(It didn’t jump again until 1967 when the league added six more teams and four more games to the calendar)
The Rocket scored 50 goals in 50 games in 1944-’45, and although it came against slightly watered down talent because of the final year of World War II tying up some the league’s best players, it still became the benchmark goal total for star players to reach in future seasons.
As for 50 goals in 50 team games or less, Mike Bossy and Wayne Gretzky (3 times), Mario Lemieux and Brett Hull (twice) all pulled off the feat.
— Trivia Answer: The Metropolitans defeated the Montreal Canadiens to win the Stanley Cup.
— Kraken Beat Ducks 3-2 And Enter Christmas Break On A Roll
— Rink Construction Begins For Kraken Winter Classic
— Choosing my favorite video of the season thus far resulted in a three-way tie, with all three being recorded within a week of one another earlier in December before Kraken games. Coaches rarely do this type of thing on a game day, but “Simmer’s Morning Skate” has become a bit of a tradition for some. (Forbidden in Vancouver).
John Hynes of the Wild features comments on taking over a new gig mid-season, Paul Maurice of the Panthers with profound comments on Kraken GM Ron Francis, and Jon Cooper of the Lightning talking about his championships at five different levels and his wife’s 3 keys to success.