The Kraken Lost Their Inaugural Home Opener

I just have to say it’s unbelievably greedy and against the spirit of the night to not actually show the Kraken’s home opener on regular/cable television. You had to have either ESPN+ or Hulu Live (the expensive version of Hulu) to be able to watch it in the Puget Sound market. How about you throw us a bone? We’re a brand new fanbase and you’re trying to drum up interest in this new sports product; maybe try A LITTLE BIT to cater to our needs before you start gouging us in the back.

That said, was it effective? Well, it was enough for my brother to break down and buy ESPN+, later justifying it by noting all the sporting events he’s now able to watch (he enjoys non-traditional sports, so this streaming platform is actually right up his alley). Nevertheless, it was a misstep, and frankly one this franchise can’t afford to make. The more I read, the more people in the know believe it’s a foregone conclusion that the Supersonics will return to existence eventually. When they do, with the roots this community has in professional basketball, the Kraken will easily slide into 4th or 5th banana role (depending on what you think of the MLS and the Sounders). The Kraken might want to drum up some good will before what we REALLY wanted all along – the Sonics – comes back to us.

It was with this attitude that I watched the opening introductions, where the NHL commissioner and Tod Leiweke were falling all over themselves to thank the fans for doing this. As if it wasn’t all decided by the local politicians and a few billionaires. Again, had they listened to what the fans really wanted, we’d have the NBA back in Seattle; hockey is a fine consolation prize and all, but don’t try to pretend this wasn’t a calculated move to expand into a fast-growing, money-rich city. Yeah, I can’t wait to spend $20 on a can of beer; you’re welcome for all of our hard work, billionaires!

And we retired the number 32? I still don’t totally get that; is this a thing in hockey? Did every new franchise retire the number corresponding to how many teams are in the league? You realize it was just a coincidence that they signed up 32,000 people to indicate their desire to buy season tickets, right? Also that number seems a bit fudged to go along with this pointless narrative of 32. And even though the number is supposed to represent the fans – a la the Seahawks and the retired number 12 – the banner over Climate Pledge Arena just says “Kraken” on it. So, the Kraken retired the number 32 in honor of themselves?

Only in Seattle, Jesus Christ.

All right, I’m done bitching. I promise I’m not really that angry about any of this. I mean, shit, I was willing to miss the game entirely, so actually getting to watch it on Saturday was a real treat!

Sure, the Kraken lost 4-2 to the Vancouver Canucks, but it was a thrilling match up until late in the third period. The game was scoreless until late in the first, when the Kraken scored their first-ever home goal, thanks to Vince Dunn. I don’t think that’ll necessarily be the answer to any trivia questions, but you never know. There are some real trivia obsessives out there!

We gave up the lead in the second period, as the Canucks scored on a flukey play where the puck got away from us right in front of the goalie. It was tied 1-1 heading into the final frame, when Mark Giordano scored a little over five minutes in. I really thought that 2-1 lead was going to hold up! But, they got a pretty easy one on a power play, and then scored again about three minutes later. An empty-netter was added late to give the game its final score.

I’m noticing a trend with the Kraken, but I don’t know if this is just common to all hockey teams. But, it seems like the Kraken have been seriously unlucky on their shots on goal just BARELY missing for whatever reason. We even had an opportunity to score on a breakaway within the first 30 seconds of the game, but our guy JUST missed it. Maybe that happens all the time and I’m new to the sport, but it’ll be interesting to watch going forward.

Another trend is the simple fact that the Kraken struggle to score a lot. Maybe Vancouver just has an awesome goalie; that’s certainly on the table. He passed my eye test, anyway. But, this loss drops us to 1-4-1, and we’ve scored over two goals just twice in the early going.

It’s also leaving me questioning how well our goalie, Philipp Grubauer, is playing. Again, this is my simple-man’s eye test talking, but he’s looked just okay to me. Middle of the road, adequate. But, I don’t know if that’s totally fair, because the scoring-challenged Kraken make every goal we give up amplified to the 10th power. It’s hard to keep teams down to 1 or 2 goals every night. At some point, we need to make it easier on our guy. But, also, it wouldn’t hurt for him to really step up and carry this team on his back until we figure our shit out.

It’s been much more of a growing pains situation than I think most of us expected when we learned Seattle was getting a hockey team. Las Vegas really set the bar unfathomably high in their first season, and it’s unfair to expect to keep up. But, you also hate to see the Kraken get in too deep of a hole. They need to be competitive. Right now, it seems like they are, but also it seems like a real struggle just to stay competitive, and a lot of games might start getting away from us the more we lose in this fashion.

There’s no identity for this team right now. I think we were expecting hard-nosed scrappers, but there’s no edge to us. I’m not some hockey yokel who’s only watching it for the fights, but it would be nice to see some aggression. It would be nice to see us make an impact on the boards. Make teams really feel it after they’ve played us.

If we’re going to lose, then dammit, kick SOME ass along the way!

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