At 10:25am PT at Kraken Community Iceplex on Tuesday, emerging from the tunnel of state-of-the-art sliding doors with an enlarged Seattle Kraken logo, was one man prepared to take on whatever the world threw at him.
No, it wasn’t a new call up or player from a trade.
Ben Guerrero, clocking in for work every day as Kraken director of public relations and fresh off the plane with the team after Sunday’s 3-1 defeat in San Jose, was thrown into the fire for a 27-minute practice that according to head coach Dave Hakstol was a “pace day,” and took routine fire from NHL veterans such as Jordan Eberle, Calle Jarnkrok, and Mark Giordano.
The Kraken needed him, appreciative of his pinch-hitting duties with simultaneous stick taps at the conclusion of their end-of-practice stretch at center ice.
Goaltender Philipp Grubauer, given the day off for a maintenance day after a 21-save effort in San Jose, loaned his game mask to the moonlighting backup. After that, Guerrero scooped up other goaltending artifacts to suit up with, some collected from previous work stops with the San Jose Sharks and Washington Capitals:
A chest protector from Troy Grosenick, pads and blocker from Michal Neuvirth, spare glove from Chris Driedger, and hockey pants from Driedger which were a “plan B” approach, only because an old pair from Tomas Vokoun were in unsuitable condition.
“We’re going to hold judgement for another day or two,” said Hakstol, in a deadpan fashion.
No further changes were administered to the Kraken lineup on Tuesday, who iced identical line combinations and defensive pairs from the previous night still with Jared McCann, Karson Kuhlman, and Jaden Schwartz still aiming for recovery from injured reserve status.
The Kraken can officially turn the page from a challenging month of February, bearing fruit of just two wins in a ten-game, 2-7-1 stretch while they’ve lost McCann to an upper body ailment, and enduring five games of five goals allowed or more.
To turn that page, the Kraken – still eighth in the Pacific Division while trailing Chicago by nine points for next spot up in the Conference – looked to detail tune-up instead of rest after travel from Northern California. Hakstol said it sets the table for the month of March, where the Kraken will have 12 games to maneuver, including eight on the road.
So what’s the most important mission ahead?
“Continue to address areas of our game in practice,” said Hakstol. “Tomorrow we’ll get in a good work day. As you continue to go through the schedule you’re looking to build wins and looking for leadership in every single different area of our hockey team.”
Hakstol declined to specify the chatter inside the room with regards to leadership dialogue but acknowledged abrasiveness that’s limited league opponents to 28.9 shots per game, fourth best in the WHL, and bagged wins over contenders such as Florida, Washington, and Carolina.
“This team has been resilient, as I’ve talked about,” said Hakstol. “We’re a team that needs every part to do their piece during a 60 minute hockey game in order to complete and build wins.
Hakstol was also asked about the method of handling psychology around the trade deadline coming up, three weeks away on Mar. 21.
“Just approaching it and knowing there are some significant things going through the minds of different players – and how that can affect their daily lives, their families,” said Hakstol. “But also being able to take that and make sure we’re all good pros and do our job really well.”
“Little bit of discussion, not a lot. Just an honest approach.”
KRAKEN PRACTICE, FEB. 28: