Forgive me Vancouver Canucks fans, had a “big night” last evening with old friends in Seattle, a town and area I visited dozens of times back in my minor league hockey and baseball days. I’m not used to being away from this site for 24-hours. But it kind of fits the overall festive mood here in the Emerald City. The finishing touches are being put on the building and the rink itself. Everyone is jacked. Big wigs from NHL HQ in NYC are on hand, the TV network folks, etc., and the anticipation is palpable.
“It’s bright out there, it’s cool,” said JT Miller after morning skate. “It’s a game we’re looking forward to, it should be an awesome environment to play a game in. It’s cool to be a part of a new team’s first game, it’ll be fun.”
After his media avail, I had a chance to reminisce with “Millsy” about our time in Ufa, Russia almost nine years ago when his Team USA squad won the 2013 World Junior Championship. He of course was a forward on the Gold Medal team, me as the TSN reporter/live ice level guy covering that team. It remains his biggest moment in hockey other than Stanley Cup playoff games. He said in terms of winning, an accomplishment and a moment, Ufa is still it.
Miller had a chance to run into three of his teammates from that victory the other night in Chicago, all Team USA defenceman. Seth Jones, Connor Murphy, and Jake McCabe, who served as USA’s captain.
— The Seattle Kraken spent their first five NHL games on the road as the Climate Pledge Arena still needed some work done. And they’re still working on it, right down to cutting and soldering metal. One of the photog’s from Getty Images pointed out that they still need to cut the photo holes in the glass. Other than the finishing touches, it’s a beautiful rink and every detail and accoutrement for fans has been addressed. I took a couple pic’s of the ice level suites that I’ll share via social media on twitter at @simmerpuck or @VANhockeynow.
Finding one’s way around the new building is a bit of a challenge. Before the skate, Russian forward Vitaly Podkolzin and Slovakian goalie Jaroslav Halak started walking the wrong direction out of the dressing room. They had to be shouted down and shepherded through the correct door. After the skate I ran into Canucks defenceman Tucker Poolman having a hard time finding his way out of the building while I was lost looking for the media room.
— Shortly I’ll have a piece on Vancouver Canucks defenceman Kyle Burroughs, who’s progressing nicely on the third D-pair with Jack Rathbone. Other than improved play, the significance of his first period fight the other night in Chicago, on the road in a 1-1 hockey game, while sticking up for a teammate, wasn’t lost on his head coach.
“We want a team that sticks up for one another,” Travis Green said. “Obviously there was a hit on (Nils) Höglander that he didn’t like, and I give the other player credit (Riley Stillman) for dropping the gloves too.”
— All of the Vancouver Canucks were present and accounted for, as in the recently injured Quinn Hughes and Brock Boeser. Both were at full speed at morning skate after playing key roles in Thursday’s win in Chicago. Hughes played his season low 22:06 while Boeser logged 18:45 in ice time. Hughes was my first star.
Thatcher Demko gets the start in goal tonight for the Canucks on this historical occasion.
Here was the morning skate line-up according to Canucks radio voice Brendan Batchelor:
Tanner Pearson, Bo Horvat, Conor Garland
JT Miller, Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser
Matthew Highmore, Jason Dickinson, Nils Höglander
Justin Dowling, Juho Lammikko, Alex Chiasson
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Tyler Myers
Quinn Hughes, Tucker Poolman
Jack Rathbone, Kyle Burroughs
It appears Vitaly Podkolzin, Luke Schenn, and Brad Hunt will sit.
— We just had the first ever Seattle Kraken media lunch. Pretty darn good, especially the BBQ beef.