Seattle Kraken

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Seattle Kraken
2023–24 Seattle Kraken season
ConferenceWestern
DivisionPacific
Founded2021
HistorySeattle Kraken
2021–present
Home arenaClimate Pledge Arena
CitySeattle, Washington
Team colorsDeep sea blue, ice blue, boundless blue, shadow blue, red alert[1][2][3]
         
MediaRoot Sports Northwest
Sports Radio 950 KJR
Owner(s)Seattle Hockey Partners
General managerRon Francis
Head coachDave Hakstol
CaptainVacant
Minor league affiliatesCoachella Valley Firebirds (AHL)
Kansas City Mavericks (ECHL)
Stanley Cups0
Conference championships0
Presidents' Trophy0
Division championships0
Official websitenhl.com/kraken

The Seattle Kraken are a professional ice hockey team based in Seattle. The Kraken compete in the National Hockey League (NHL) as a member of the Pacific Division in the Western Conference and began play during the league's 2021–22 season. They play their home games at Climate Pledge Arena.

In December 2018, the NHL approved a proposal by Seattle Hockey Partners to grant an expansion franchise to the city of Seattle. In July 2020, the Kraken's name and branding were revealed.[4] The Kraken are the first professional ice hockey team to play in Seattle since the Seattle Totems of the Western Hockey League played their last game in 1975, and the first Seattle team to compete for the Stanley Cup since the Seattle Metropolitans, who won the Cup in 1917 and folded in 1924. On October 26, 2021, the team raised a banner commemorating the 1917 title team.[5]

History[edit]

Establishment[edit]

The NHL Board of Governors voted unanimously to approve Seattle's expansion team on December 4, 2018, to begin play in the 2021–22 season as a member of the Pacific Division in the Western Conference. As a result, the Arizona Coyotes were shifted from the Pacific Division to the Central Division to balance out the four divisions at eight teams each. The organization hired Ron Francis as their general manager to initiate operations for the team.[6]

On July 23, 2020, the franchise announced their team name, the Seattle Kraken, as well as their team colors, branding, and home jersey.[7] The team's name comes from the mythical kraken of Scandinavian folklore and its resemblance to the native giant Pacific octopus, which is found in the waters of the Puget Sound, near Seattle.[8] On April 30, 2021, the franchise paid the final installment of the $650 million expansion fee, making the Kraken the 32nd team of the NHL.[9][10]

First seasons[edit]

On June 24, 2021, the organization hired Dave Hakstol as their inaugural head coach.[11] An expansion draft was held on July 21, in a similar manner to a previous expansion draft held in 2017 for the Vegas Golden Knights, who were themselves exempt from the 2021 expansion draft.[12][13][14] On October 11, the Kraken named Mark Giordano as team's first captain.[15] The captaincy became vacant after Giordano was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 20, 2022.[16] The Kraken played their first regular season game on October 12, a 4–3 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights. Ryan Donato scored the team's first goal. The Kraken's first win came in their second game on October 14, when they defeated the Nashville Predators 4–3.[17] The Kraken finished their inaugural season in last place in the Pacific Division with a 27–49–6 record and 60 points.

In their second season, the Kraken clinched their first playoff berth, qualifying for the 2023 Stanley Cup playoffs as the first wild card from the Western Conference with a record of 46–28–8. They defeated the defending champions, the Colorado Avalanche, in the opening round before losing to the Dallas Stars in the second round. Both series lasted the full seven games.[18]

Arena[edit]

The team plays home games at Climate Pledge Arena.[19][20] The arena, at Seattle Center, is a $930 million redevelopment of the former KeyArena and Seattle Center Coliseum. Amazon bought the naming rights to Climate Pledge Arena and chose to name the venue after its environmental goals.[21] The venue has 17,151 total seats in its NHL configuration;[22] 6,000 seats are reserved for half-season ticket holders, who were given the choice of packages named the "Blue Line" and "Red Line".[23] All fans holding tickets are given free transit passes to get to and from the arena, which is served by several bus routes and the Seattle Center Monorail.[24]

The Kraken Community Iceplex in Northgate serves as the team's training facility
Interior view of Climate Pledge Arena, the team's home venue, during a public open house

The team's primary practice facility, named the Kraken Community Iceplex, is located at Northgate Station (formerly Northgate Mall) and was opened in September 2021. The facility has three rinks and is open to the public.[25]

The Kraken's three home preseason games prior to the 2021–22 season were held at Spokane Arena in Spokane, Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, and the accesso ShoWare Center in Kent, which are all home to Western Hockey League (WHL) teams. Tickets were sold by the host WHL teams.[26]

The Kraken played their first home game at Climate Pledge Arena on October 23, 2021, a 4–2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. Vince Dunn scored the first goal in the arena's history for Seattle.[27] They won their first game in the arena on October 26, a 5–1 victory against the Montreal Canadiens.[28] Their first shutout win at home was a 3–0 victory over the San Jose Sharks on April 29, 2022, the final home game of the inaugural season.[29]

In-arena entertainment[edit]

The Kraken use the horn from the MV Hyak ferry boat as their goal horn. At the first two home games, the Hyak's horn was not yet functional, so the team played a recording of it.[30] The team plays the Nirvana song "Lithium" after every Kraken goal at home.[31]

After their first win at home against the Montreal Canadiens on October 26, 2021, the Kraken featured a new postgame tradition during the "Three Stars of the Game" ceremony. Instead of the honored players tossing conventional souvenir pucks or sticks to the fans, they throw a plush toy salmon into the crowd to mimic Seattle's Pike Place Market fish toss and to honor the significance of wild-caught salmon to the state of Washington.[32]

Rod Masters, the organist from the 1977 film Slap Shot, became the organist for the Kraken starting with the team's January 1, 2022 home game. As Climate Pledge Arena does not have an organ, Masters played music using electronic keyboards.[33] Masters retired after the 2021–22 season, and the Kraken hired 29-year-old Ben Wooley to replace him.[34]

Uniforms[edit]

The Kraken during the 2024 NHL Winter Classic wearing uniforms inspired by the Seattle Metropolitans.

The Kraken unveiled its inaugural uniforms on July 22, 2021. Deep sea blue served as the base color with ice blue, boundless blue, shadow blue and red as the accent colors.[35]

The Kraken unveiled its "Reverse Retro" uniform in the 2022–23 season, featuring an ice blue base with deep sea blue striping. The design was a callback to the Seattle Ironmen, a defunct Pacific Coast Hockey League (PCHL) team that existed in the 1940s.[36]

In the 2024 NHL Winter Classic, the Kraken wore a uniform inspired by the Seattle Metropolitans' sweaters. The deep sea blue uniform features a red "S" similar to the Metropolitans' crest, but shaped to the current "S" logo of the Kraken, with the team name written inside. Ice blue, vintage white and deep sea blue stripes were added to the body and sleeves.[37] The uniform was officially unveiled on November 22, 2023, but was leaked four days earlier when players from the NBA's Utah Jazz walked to the Delta Center wearing the Kraken's Winter Classic uniform.[38]

Mascot[edit]

Seattle Kraken mascot Buoy

Buoy, a sea troll, is the Kraken's mascot. He is said to be a nephew of the Fremont Troll. Buoy was introduced prior to a preseason game against the Canucks on October 1, 2022, at Climate Pledge Arena. The Kraken had intended to introduce Buoy around Christmas during the 2021–22 season, but due to game postponements related to the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant, the team decided to wait until prior to the 2022–23 season instead.[39] Reaction to Buoy's debut was polarized, with many observers expressing a strong like or dislike for the mascot.[40] On his Spittin' Chiclets podcast, Paul Bissonnette called Buoy "the ugliest mascot of all time".[41]

During the 2021–22 season, in the absence of an official mascot, the Kraken promoted a "team dog" named Davy Jones. The dog, a four-month-old husky mix rescue dog introduced on January 17, 2022, socialized with fans at home games as he trained to be a therapy dog.[42]

Broadcasting[edit]

Radio[edit]

Everett Fitzhugh serves as the team's primary radio play-by-play announcer. Fitzhugh had previously done play-by-play for the ECHL's Cincinnati Cyclones. He is the first full-time play-by-play announcer of African-American heritage in NHL history.[43][44] Former NHL player and Vancouver Canucks broadcaster Dave Tomlinson served as Fitzhugh's color analyst for the first two seasons,[45] before resigning in August 2023 to take a new broadcasting job in Canada.[46] Fitzhugh tested positive for COVID-19 prior to the Kraken's first regular season road trip; on radio broadcasts, TV announcer John Forslund and veteran KJR broadcaster Ian Furness filled in on play-by-play duties.[47]

Kraken games are broadcast on KJR-FM 93.3 and KJR 950 AM, the flagship stations of the Kraken Audio Network. During a schedule conflict, some games may be heard on 96.5 KJAQ.[48][49] The Kraken Audio Network also includes the following stations outside Seattle:[50]

Television[edit]

Kraken games are broadcast regionally on Root Sports Northwest for the team's first five seasons. Former Hartford Whalers and Carolina Hurricanes broadcaster John Forslund serves as the team's television play-by-play announcer.[44][53] J. T. Brown is the Kraken's first television analyst.[54] In August 2022, the team hired Eddie Olczyk to be a television analyst alongside Forslund and Brown. Olczyk would maintain his job at TNT as the lead color commentator and would call Kraken's games as his schedule allowed.[55]

Alison Lukan is a studio analyst for Root Sports Northwest who filled in for Brown for a few games during the 2021–22 season and did the same for Olczyk and Piper Shaw for the 2022–23 season onward. Nick Olczyk joined her as a TV, radio, and mobile app contributor for the 2022–23 season.[56]

The telecast for the Kraken's February 17, 2022, game against the Winnipeg Jets had Fitzhugh on play-by-play and Brown on color commentary, comprising the first all-Black broadcast booth in NHL history.[57]

Television ratings[edit]

In their first season, the Kraken averaged a 0.96 Nielsen rating for games broadcast on Root Sports Northwest. By comparison, the Vegas Golden Knights averaged a 1.87 rating in their first season for games broadcast locally on AT&T Rocky Mountain.[58]

From the beginning of their second season through mid-January 2023, the Kraken averaged a 0.68 rating, in the lowest third of US NHL markets for which Nielsen ratings were available, despite a much better record than their first season at the same point. The team launched a new show, entitled What's Kraken?, on over-the-air station KCPQ, to broaden fan support during the 2022–23 season. Seattle's high percentage of "broadband only" homes, without cable or satellite TV service, and the unavailability of Root Sports Northwest on most over-the-top media services, contributed to the low ratings.[59]

During their second and third seasons, the Kraken averaged a 0.7 Nielsen rating for their October games on Root Sports Northwest. Shortly before the 2022–23 season, Comcast moved Root Sports Northwest to a higher-priced tier of service, due to the high cost and low demand for the channel.[60]

Minor league affiliates[edit]

The Coachella Valley Firebirds, the American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate of the Kraken, are based in Thousand Palms, California.[61] Due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and delays in building Acrisure Arena, the Firebirds began play in the 2022–23 season.[62] The Firebirds played home games during the first two months of their 2022–23 season in the Seattle metropolitan area, including one game at Climate Pledge Arena, before playing their first game at Acrisure Arena on December 18, 2022.[63][64]

The Charlotte Checkers, the primary AHL affiliate of the Florida Panthers, also served as the AHL affiliate for the Kraken during the 2021–22 season due to the delay in the Kraken's AHL team. The Checkers, an independently owned AHL team, had been the affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes while the Kraken's general manager Ron Francis was working for the Hurricanes.[65]

For their inaugural season, the Kraken's ECHL affiliate was the Texas-based Allen Americans[66] who were replaced by the Kansas City Mavericks in that capacity for the 2022–23 season.[67]

Season-by-season record[edit]

This is a list of the seasons completed by the Kraken. For the full season-by-season history, see List of Seattle Kraken seasons.

GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, OTL = Overtime Losses, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against

Season GP W L OTL Pts GF GA Finish Playoffs
2021–22 82 27 49 6 60 216 285 8th, Pacific Did not qualify
2022–23 82 46 28 8 100 289 256 4th, Pacific Lost in Second Round, 3–4 (Stars)

Players and personnel[edit]

Current roster[edit]

Updated February 17, 2024[68][69]

No. Nat Player Pos S/G Age Acquired Birthplace
41 France Pierre-Edouard Bellemare C L 38 2023 Le Blanc-Mesnil, France
10 United States Matty Beniers C L 21 2021 Hingham, Massachusetts
22 Denmark Oliver Bjorkstrand RW R 28 2022 Herning, Denmark
3 United States Will Borgen D R 27 2021 Moorhead, Minnesota
95 Sweden Andre Burakovsky LW L 29 2022 Klagenfurt, Austria
35 United States Joey Daccord G L 27 2021 Boston, Massachusetts
8 United States Brian Dumoulin D L 29 2023 Biddeford, Maine
29 Canada Vince Dunn D L 27 2021 Mississauga, Ontario
7 Canada Jordan Eberle (A) RW R 33 2021 Regina, Saskatchewan
41 Canada Ryker Evans D L 22 2021 Calgary, Alberta
37 Canada Yanni Gourde (A) C L 32 2021 Saint-Narcisse, Quebec
31 Germany Philipp Grubauer G L 32 2021 Rosenheim, Germany
52 Canada Tye Kartye LW L 22 2022 Kingston, Ontario
6 Sweden Adam Larsson (A) D R 31 2021 Skellefteå, Sweden
19 Canada Jared McCann C L 27 2021 Stratford, Ontario
24 Canada Jamie Oleksiak D L 31 2021 Toronto, Ontario
17 Canada Jaden Schwartz (A) LW L 31 2021 Melfort, Saskatchewan
4 Canada Justin Schultz D R 33 2022 Kelowna, British Columbia
13 Canada Brandon Tanev LW L 32 2021 Toronto, Ontario
90 Slovakia Tomas Tatar LW L 33 2023 Ilava, Czechoslovakia
20 Finland Eeli Tolvanen RW L 24 2022 Vihti, Finland
21 Sweden Alexander Wennberg C L 29 2021 Nacka, Sweden
56 United States Kailer Yamamoto RW R 25 2023 Spokane, Washington


Owners[edit]

The team is owned by Seattle Hockey Partners, an organization consisting of David Bonderman, Jerry Bruckheimer and Tod Leiweke.[70] Minority owners of the Kraken include Chris Ackerley, Ted Ackerley, Jay Deutsch, Mitch Garber, Adrian Hanauer, Samantha Holloway,[71] Andy Jassy, Marshawn Lynch, Macklemore,[72] Len Potter, Sam Slater,[73] David Wright, and Jeff Wright.[74][75][76]

Ron Francis and Dave Hakstol are serving as the Kraken franchise's first general manager and head coach, respectively

General managers[edit]

Head coaches[edit]

Team captains[edit]

Retired numbers[edit]

  • 32 was retired on October 23, 2021, immediately before the team played their first regular season home game, in recognition of the team being the 32nd to join the NHL and in honor of the 32,000 fans who placed deposits for tickets on the first possible day.[78]
  • 99 was retired by the NHL for all its member teams in honor of Wayne Gretzky at the 2000 National Hockey League All-Star Game.[79]

Team and league honors[edit]

Team awards[edit]

The Kraken have four player awards that are given after each season. The Kraken's most valuable player, as voted on by Seattle-area media, receives the Pete Muldoon Award. The player with the most mentions in the three stars of each Kraken home game, computed using a points system, wins the Three Stars of the Year Award. The Guyle Fielder Award goes to the teammate who best exemplifies "perseverance, hustle, and dedication" as voted upon by their teammates and coaches. The Fan Favorite Award goes to a player who wins a fan vote.[80][81]

League awards[edit]

Calder Memorial Trophy

Franchise records[edit]

Jordan Eberle is second all-time in franchise goals, assists and points

Scoring leaders[edit]

These are the top-ten point-scorers in franchise history. Figures are updated after each completed NHL regular season.[82]

  •  *  – current Kraken player

Note: Pos = Position; GP = Games played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points; P/G = Points per game

Individual records[edit]

  • Most goals in a season: Jared McCann, 40 (2022–23)
  • Most assists in a season: Vince Dunn, 50 (2022–23)
  • Most points in a season: Jared McCann, 70 (2022–23)
  • Most points in a season, defenseman: Vince Dunn, 64 (2022–23)
  • Most points in a season, rookie: Matty Beniers, 57 (2022–23)
  • Most penalty minutes in a season: Yanni Gourde, 76 (2022–23)
  • Best +/– in a season: Vince Dunn, +28 (2022–23)
  • Most wins in a season: Martin Jones, 27 (2022–23)
  • Most shutouts in a season: Martin Jones, 3 (2022–23)
  • Lowest GAA in a season: Philipp Grubauer, 2.85 (2022–23)
  • Highest SV% in a season: Joey Daccord, .900 (2022–23)

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External links[edit]