Kraken at Coyotes

Kraken Rocking The Mullett! Arena That Is – A Personal Reflection

((Throughout the season, Seattle Hockey Insider has been giving Kraken reporter and college student Allyson Ballard an opportunity to submit stories periodically and get exposure and experience on our site. This time around it’s a creative writing column, a personal reflection and analysis of her visit last week to the NHL’s alternate universe, a college rink, the 5,000 seat home of the Arizona Coyotes, Mullett Arena))
Mullett 1
Mullett Arena in Tempe, Arizona


TEMPE, AZ — “Hockey, the hard way,” thunders the Jumbotron moments before puck drop at Mullett Arena.

No kidding.

A plane ride from Seattle to Phoenix is about three hours long and more than 1,100 miles, and a couple of months salary for a college student working two jobs. Flying, especially for those of us who haven’t in at least a decade, is a test of wits.

Under these circumstances, covering the Seattle Kraken on the road is difficult. I had little time to prepare, wrapping up final exams two days before departure on Tuesday. I packed with a heavy hand, two carry-ons.

By the way, I missed my flight home, caught a later nonstop, and didn’t roll back into Seattle until midnight on Saturday. Spring quarter started 48 hours later.

Friday afternoon in Tempe. High-70s, even hotter in work attire and worse coming from a cool Washington spring. Three hours before puck drop I stumbled upon the Arizona Coyotes’ press entrance by complete accident, finding the unmarked industrial door tucked behind a loading dock.

Mullett makes you work for it. I would have failed its labyrinthine test without the woman wrangling credentials, who led me to the ensuing tarp-covered elevator ride to the upper floor. And without the help of Piper Shaw I would not have realized the sentence “Dave Hakstol will speak outside the Kraken locker room”, literally meant outside the building.

Typically pregame views include narrow corridors and various shades of business casual. On this Turkish blue evening, a handful of us — broadcast crew and media— stood under a tent waiting for the head coach.

There was not much to discuss on the second half of a Kraken back-to-back set. With the team doing as poorly as they were, inquiries of Jaden Schwartz’s return and Joey Daccord’s overcooked Sun Devils storyline felt rather like going through the motions.

As it turned out, post-game didn’t go any easier. Kraken rookie D-man Ryker Evans wiped his first-NHL-goal grin off his face quickly enough to handle his presser with the affability of an executioner.

Who could blame him? A late tying goal from Arizona darling Clayton Keller ended any Seattle hopes of a regulation victory, and the game-winning overtime goal by Dylan Guenther dealt the killing blow.

Another loss, seven in a row, like another kick to the shin.

Unlike when Seattle punched their ticket to the playoffs versus Arizona at home last season, the desert held no berth — and not much else. It was an especially tough go for the hoard of visiting Kraken fans who must have booked flights and tickets far in advance, assuming late March would a magical time for a trip south.


The Kraken walk from their dressing room, through the concourse, behind glass.

Kraken At The Mullett

Turns out, everything I’d heard about Mullett’s stature were true.

Suites hung low over the ice, forced into their cowering position by the immediacy of the ceiling.

Fresh memories of attending an Everett Silvertips game gave me the authority to safely estimate Mullett was smaller than a WHL arena. Backless bleachers lined the shooting ends of the rink. Press sat on barstool seats, filling out the last ‘row’ of the lower bowl, separated from crowds only by thin velvet stanchions. We were swarmed at intermissions.

Technically seated in the crowd itself, my view was obstructed off and on by the silhouettes of celebrating fans, jumping and clapping and lost in whatever theater played out before them.

Coyotes hockey lured a small portion of the city out of its den. I saw more people that night than I’d seen the entire week I spent in Arizona with its eerily sparse, sprawling landscape.

Seeing the bleacher seats brimming over with fans, shoulders packed tightly against shoulders, was a sight for sore eyes. It was rousing to witness the masses huddled together.

From my perch the ice was only maybe 30 feet away— I could taste it. Shots and saves echoed in my chest. Fans roared around me. I had never seen the game so alive.

For all of the difficulties and drawbacks at the Mullett, there is a rare opportunity: NHL hockey up close and personal.

Modern convenience is perennially seductive, but sometimes the hard way is so much sweeter.

((Editor’s Note: Allyson has one on me here. I’ve been to every current NHL building at some point, except the Mullett Arena. Bragging rights! We’ll see if I can sneak down there next season))

Other Ballard Kraken offerings this season:

— Kraken Game Day News; Dunn A Go, Beniers Skates

— Steady Yet Full Of Surprises; 2 Kraken Beasts On The Backend

— Kraken’s Strong Start Swept Up In Hurricanes Whirlwind Offense

— Kraken Morning After; Ugly Loss More Than Just An Off Night

— Final Roster Wrapped; Kraken Taking Time With Top Prospects

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments