Seattle Kraken practice

Seattle Kraken Stories The Numbers Can’t Tell

A Kraken Practice Day …

Statistics are why many of us fell in love with sports in the first place.

Will Alex Ovechkin catch Wayne Gretzky? Will Auston Matthews score 70 goals?

Analytics has transformed how we view our favorite games.

Joey Daccord saved three goals above expected against the Boston Bruins!

Yet two quick items from Seattle Kraken practice at KCI Wednesday illustrate what’s still beyond the reach of numbers, even analytically-driven ones …

Hakstol More Bullish On Beniers Than Numbers Suggest

Coach Dave Hakstol was asked, again, about lack of offense from 2nd year center Matty Beniers. The 21-year-old Calder Trophy winner, who scored 24 goals in 2022-23, is on pace for half that many this season.

“I’m a lot more positive on his year than most of you are,” Hakstol said, referring to assembled reporters. “This guy is continuing to grow. His best hockey is happening right now, and even better is yet to come.”

About that. Beniers saw an offensive revival at the end of Seattle’s recent road trip. Seconds after being rocked by the New York Islanders’ Ryan Pulock, Beniers dusted himself off and scored. One game later he scored again, adding two assists as the Kraken upset the Eastern Conference-leading Bruins.

Noting the three-point night against his hometown team, headlines blared, “Matty’s Back!”

Coach Hakstol would have written the headline a bit differently.

“That game wasn’t special in terms of performance for him. He played well, he executed offensively.” Then the coach reflected on inevitable bumps in any career road. “There’s no easy pathway for a young player. The good thing is, he’s not looking for easy pathways. He’s one of the hardest working guys. He competes hard every night. That’s what we need out of him.”

The Rookie & The Vet Work Overtime

Tye Kartye was two years old when Pierre-Edouard Bellemare played his first season of pro hockey in his native France. Now, Kartye is a 22-year-old rookie, Bellemare a 38-year-old veteran – and Seattle Kraken teammates.

Bellemare has resisted father time longer than most. Of roughly 8.000 players who have stepped on the ice for an NHL game, 225 – less than three percent – were still active on their 38th birthday.

After the rest of the players had showered, after the media had dispersed, there were Kartye and Bellemare still on the KCI ice, practicing and talking.

Part of what keeps him going, Bellemare says, is working with young players, and not just on skills. Pierre-Edouard, one of the cheeriest people you’ll meet, is a non-stop uplifting presence in the room, at practice, on the bench, and during games.

No measurable yet invented can gauge the value of such a presence. Because for all its glamour, money, and first-class accommodations, pro hockey is still a mental and physical meat grinder. In that sense, the encouragement and wisdom Bellemare provides to Kartye and all of his Kraken teammates might be as important as faceoffs he wins or penalties he kills.

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