Parenthood is here.
Just over 12 hours after the Seattle Kraken enjoyed a spirited and resilient 4-3 shootout victory at Calgary, the ice surface at Kraken Community Iceplex was busy once again. The plane ride – and a happy one – took care of the quick transit back from Canada, where a quick trip to bed and early rise delivered a rare “practice day” this week, finishing four games in five days.
Forward Alexander Wennberg returned after an important “personal day” which began last week: he was preparing to become a father. Wennberg and fiancee, Felicia, welcomed son Rio into the world last Saturday.
Wennberg – confirming he participated in skating while the team was on the road, but returned for his first practice today – was re-united with wingers Marcus Johansson and Calle Jarnkrok, a line combination handed the clever moniker “Swedish House Mafia.”
-Newcomer Max McCormick, a former Boston Bruins prospect, made his first appearance on ice since the Kraken announced his signing to a one-year, two-way contract shortly before puck drop at Calgary.
-Nathan Bastian, with an assist while appearing in all three pre-season games, was absent from practice to what head coach Dave Hakstol called a “personal day.”
-The Kraken delivered their first set of cuts on Thursday, trimming the roster by eight players: second round pick and defenseman Ryker Evans was back to the Regina Pats for another year of seasoning (unless he reaches the NHL level immediately, he’s eligible to be sent to the AHL starting next season). Fellow draft picks Ryan Winterton (Hamilton, OHL) and Jacob Melanson (Acadie-Bathurst, QMJHL) were sent back to their major junior level teams, while Brent Gates Jr., Tye Kartye, Ryan Lohin, Cole MacKay, and goaltender Francis Marotte were all announced as released from tryout agreements.
-Yanni Gourde continued to skate with the Kraken main practice group, connecting on a backdoor play to finish one drill while continuing to elevate his speed, still wearing a red-colored “non-contact” jersey.
PRACTICE LINE COMBINATIONS
Schwartz - McCann - Eberle
Johansson - Wennberg - Jarnkrok
Donskoi - Geekie - Donato
Tanev - Sheahan - Appleton
Twarynski - Gourde (red) - True
Giordano - Dunn
H. Fleury - Larsson
Chowloski - Oleksiak
Lauzon - Soucy
FROM THE PODIUM:
Alexander Wennberg on the meaning of becoming a father:
It's amazing. The life (now) means you do a lot of new things, and stuff you need to learn. But it's been amazing. Baby's doing great, Mom's doing great. Fun couple of days for sure."
Wennberg on what the first practice felt like:
“I’ve been skating. It was really nice to let me stay home, but I’ve been working on the games and doing the best I could do. To be back and see all the boys after a trip like that was fun. It’s been really fun to be home but when you’re not playing and not with the team it’ll make you itch a little bit in the fingers. Now I’m finally back at it, seeing everyone again, having a little conversation about hockey, it’s always fun as well.”
Wennberg on the difference on watching the game on TV, versus competing on the ice:
“Watching on TV is one thing. When you’re out there it’s way faster with the pace and all that. Obviously for me it’ll be the first pre-season game to get into it, but I think it’s a great opportunity to get ready for the season. Pre-season, (the) purpose is to shake off rust, get game going, it’s a great opportunity for me to come out tomorrow, play game and get it going.”
Defenseman Jeremy Lauzon on the progress through training camp:
“For myself, we kind of played the same d-zone (coverage) as I played in Boston. That’s been an easy part for me. But as a group we make progress every day.”
Lauzon on playing with veteran defenseman Charlie McAvoy as a pair, in Boston:
“I think I learned a lot, especially playing with Charlie – I was able to play with top lines and play a lot of minutes. I’m just going to try to bring the experience I had last year to this year, to help the team win every night.”
Head coach Dave Hakstol on the return of Alex Wennberg:
“First of all it’s family absolutely first. It’s awesome for ‘Wennie’ and his family – great to have him back out here, excited to be out there, and his teammates are excited for him – we’re happy to have him back.”
Hakstol on what he’s looking forward to with getting Wennberg back:
“He’s such an important part of our team. He’s going to play different roles for us - five-on-five, special teams. We have to remember as he goes into a game, it’s going to be his first game. First of all, you know what, he’s going to have to work through some of the rust – that game action can only knock off – that’s number one. But from there, for him, to get into the flow with the way our team is building – just do his part. He has a quiet leadership to him from what I’ve seen over the few weeks in town, so that’s something we’ll look forward to as well.”
Hakstol on the challenge as a coach to maneuver four games in five days:
“The challenges for players are obviously different than for coaches. It’s pretty taxing on a player’s body – not only physically but mentally as well, going through that stretch. Now, we’re in pre-season – so guys aren’t playing each and every game, but every day we’re working, we’re practice, and there’s something on their plate in terms of their workday. It’s a busy time. But everyone’s been through busy times and challenging times before in pre-season, not unlike some of the challenging schedules you go through during the regular season. From my perspective I don’t spend too much time thinking about it or worrying about it, just the next challenge in front of us for how prepared are we, and how organized are we to take it on.”