Seettle Kraken, Oliver Bjorkstrand

‘Kraken Ollie’s’ All-Star Wrap; Final Journal From T.O.

Kraken Well Repped

Kraken NHL All-Star Oliver Bjorkstrand and team PR representative Lindsey Brown planned to saddle up and head west from Toronto earlier today (Sunday). For all I know, they’re back already, while I’m writing this on an Air Canada flight.

The lefty Kraken forward was outstanding in Game-1 of the NHL All-Star 3-game set, scoring a goal, hitting the post, and almost scoring on two other occasions. His Team Nathan MacKinnon fell 4-3 in a shoot-out to Team Connor McDavid and were eliminated.

“Ollie” will now get a chance to do what the rest of his Seattle teammates are doing, and that’s get some rest and relaxation. The Kraken are on a 10-day bye week with their regular season schedule resuming in Philadelphia against the Flyers on Saturday, February 10th. It’s the first of four consecutive road games for the Kraken before they head home to play the Detroit Red Wings on the 19th.

The All-Star weekend for superstars like McDavid is a lot of work. Constantly under the microscope, constantly in demand, and taking part in every event from start to finish. the NHL’s top dozen players were non-stop busy.

During the final press availability of the weekend, McDavid actually mentioned he was tired and needed some rest.

As a whole, the new skills competition with fewer select contestants, the renewal of the players-picking-players draft, and this version of the 3-on-3 games themselves, were a big hit. That’s good news for an NHL All-Star “wheel” that’s been reinvented many, many times.

No worries next season: The mid-winter spectacle will be replaced on the February 2025 calendar by the “Four Nations Face-Off”, a best-on-best tournament featuring the United States, Canada, Finland, and Sweden.

All-Star Journal

As with any of the major NHL events, the best part is seeing dozens and dozens of old friends and cohorts, the camaraderie that comes with that, and the parties. There were plenty of them, official and not so official.

If you don’t happen to see who you want to see at the rink, there’s a decent chance you’ll run into them bouncing around town. Some of that happened at a celebrity-fuelled hockey event not far from the rink on Friday afternoon. It featured live podcasts on stage.

As for interview highlights, I’d have to say my favorite chats outside of Bjorkstrand were with Filip Forsberg of the Nashville Predators, David Pastrnak of Boston, and his Bruins teammate, goalie Jeremy Swayman.

I was multi-tasking to say the least, also getting in lengthier chats for a book project with head coach Peter Laviolette of the New York Rangers and Rick Tocchet of the Vancouver Canucks.

As for just flat out fun brief interactions, “Monty”, head coach Jim Montgomery of the Bruins, forward Alex Debrincat of the Detroit Red Wings and goalie Thatcher Demko of the Canucks were full of smiles. I could actually say that about most of the guys. Frankie Vatrano of the Ducks also stands out.

The third element of my multi-task was “top secret” for the moment, but we’ll be passing along the finished product a little bit further down the road.

Oh, and speaking of that project, I also had a little fun with actor Will Arnett and singer Michael Buble’. It was a flashback of sorts. As the red carpet emcee for the NHL Awards the first time they were held in Las Vegas, I had a chance to interview the short crooner as he passed through. It was a fun conversation and I only bring up his stature because the Burnaby, BC native is listed at 5-10 (ahem, being generous), and I’m almost 6-7.

Later Saturday I had a chance to hang with great friends from the Canadian Blind Hockey Association, a group I worked closely with for five years earlier this millennium. I travelled all over Canada and part of the United States shooting TV shows and adventures with Mark Demontis, one of the sport’s pioneers and great players, for parts of five seasons.

Team USA gets a crack at the Canadian champs again in April in St. Louis.

Enough already, as they say. Farewell to Toronto, Ontario (“T.O.”), one of many former stomping grounds.

Thanks for checking in. More Kraken and NHL coming later today.

Other Earlier Kraken Links:

— Kraken All-Star Journal; NHL Friday, Big Trade 2

— Kraken NHL Thursday; Festive All-Stars, Huge Trade

— The Bjorkstrand PostGame 1-on-1 Video …

Kraken Ollie’s Post All-Star Game

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.