The Seattle Kraken play their first home hockey game in front of a sold-out stadium at Climate Pledge Arena on Saturday, October 23, an enormous civic moment that has been years in the making.
Can’t get yourself to care like the rest of the city? There’s nothing like the power of a good crush to make you suddenly enthralled with something you’ve never given a second thought. Enter: the home team’s most hilarious players, its stand-out leaders, its social media mavens, its straight-up heartthrobs. The Marshawn Lynches and Megan Rapinoes of the ice.
We read up on the team members, tried not to accidentally like any of their old Instagram photos, and talked with Kraken social media manager Savannah Hollis to get the scoop on which players even total hockey ignoramuses (ahem) will fall for this season.
Keep an eye out for lucky number 13: Left winger Brandon 'Turbo' Tanev is one team member who's not afraid to show that he's got "a bit bigger of a personality," Hollis says. Case in point: The Torontonian's hilariously wide-eyed team headshots from this year and his time with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"Fans love goaltenders," Hollis says, and we've got a few worth talking about. Philip Grubauer, our main man in the net and a finalist last year for best goalie in the NHL, is a PNW dreamboat: "He loves going hiking, being outdoors, has a pretty dry sense of humor," Hollis says. Canadian Chris Driedger's on injured reserve, and 25-year-old Joey Daccord's just about to get started after a stint with the Kraken's American Hockey League affiliate in Charlotte, but "they're all just really phenomenal," Hollis says. Bonus points for those of us who are new to hockey: They're really easy to spot.
Number 24 Jamie Oleksiak quickly became one of the Kraken's most recognizable faces after his appearance at the expansion draft event at Gas Works Park, in part because he makes that whole lost-a-tooth-on-the-ice thing look so good. He's also 6'7" and a part-time model.
For a player who does good both on and off the ice, look to center Riley Sheahan. Amid his own battle with depression, the Canadian hockey player started a mental health podcast called Speak Your Mind that aims to "help people feel more comfortable speaking up about personal issues"—an especially critical conversation in sports.
Oh captain, my captain: Mark Giordano is loyal (he spent 15 seasons with the Calgary Flames, eight in the leadership position he now holds with the Kraken), "one of the nicest people I think I've ever worked with," per Hollis, and one of the few players on the team who doesn't shock you by being somewhere in his twenties. "He's gonna be another one that people are gonna just really fall in love with."
Number 4 Haydn Fleury and his younger brother, Cale, are both signed to the Kraken—and though Cale's currently playing for the Kraken AHL affiliate Charlotte Checkers, the siblings did get to play together during a preseason game. Haydn and Cale are the third and fourth NHL players from their small Saskatchewan town (another is Haydn's once-babysitter, former Dallas Stars captain Brenden Morrow), and their story is certainly one to watch. Especially if they come together on the ice again soon.
The Tampa Bay Lightning were devastated to lose forward Yanni Gourde during the expansion draft: "You just can’t get enough Yanni Gourdes in your lineup," former teammate Blake Coleman once said. Now as alternate captain for the Kraken, "fans are really gonna enjoy seeing his leadership on the ice," Hollis says. If this Instagram post is any indication, we'll really enjoy seeing him off the ice, too.