Ann Wilson and Sue Bird highlight Kraken pre-game ceremonies


After an opening road trip in which two of their opponents used high-tech holographic screens, the Kraken chose a more traditional route for their pre-match ceremonies on Saturday night – although it did involve use intensive two giant dashboards overlooking the ice at Climate Pledge. Arena.

Tod Leiweke, CEO of Sounding Kraken, shouted to the crowd, “Seattle! We did it! ”Leiweke then removed the No.32 jersey, intended to symbolize the 32,000 fans whose season ticket deposits paid within 31 hours in March 2018 helped seal the league by naming the Kraken sound 32sd franchise.

Seattle-native Ann Wilson of rock band Heart performed a catchy rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner,” with fans joining her in singing the words.

Ahead of the festivities, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman met with the media and praised the arena. Bettman was asked how he initially viewed the proposal by Oak View Group co-founder Tim Leiweke to renovate the KeyArena – a place the commissioner had long been skeptical and critical of.

“Well, let’s just start with one key point – other than the roof, this arena has nothing to do with KeyArena,” Bettman said. “They are two very different buildings. When he told me he was going to build it here in Seattle Center, that sounded good.

“When he told me that they were going to maintain the roof, lift it and support it so that they could build this building – I don’t have an engineering degree, but I was amazed by the concept and the perspective. And they did a phenomenal job.

Bettman, as he always does at live NHL events, was then booed by much of the crowd as he delivered pre-game remarks over the arena’s sound system. One person who probably didn’t boo was her son-in-law, Weston Saul Baker, from Colbert, Washington, who married the commissioner’s youngest daughter, Brittany Beth Bettman, ten years ago.

During his pre-game media remarks, Bettman said his son-in-law would be at the game and joked, “So now when he sits on Sunday for the Seahawks, I can be a little more tolerant with the Seattle connection. “

The Kraken didn’t go with a pre-game drop ceremony, choosing instead to salute Storm legend Sue Bird, standing on a platform above the ice rink.

For a long time, many believed the team could invite Seattle Totems all-time scoring leader Guyle Fielder, now 90, living in Arizona, for the opening game honors. He had confided in recent years that he hoped he was still around and healthy enough to attend the Kraken’s opening night festivities.

Well, Fielder managed to do it and is now approaching his 91st birthday in November. But instead of heading to Seattle, he spent Saturday night watching the home opener on television.

A Kraken representative phoned Fielder a few weeks ago to ask if he would be interested in traveling for the opener, but it was unclear what role – if any – he would have. Fielder notoriously doesn’t steal, so his mate, Betty, drove them both in the spring of 2019 when the Kraken built a replica of their old locker at the team’s season ticket preview center.

He had hoped to participate in the opening ceremonies of the Climate Pledge.

“I was getting a little excited about it,” he said. “It would have been a good thing to do. I miss Seattle and all the fans. ”

But after the initial call, Fielder said the team rep only responded to him less than two weeks ago. By this point, Betty already had an urgent commitment ahead that she couldn’t give up, and the couple decided that a long road trip wasn’t in the cards.

“There was a lot of confusion and we didn’t know what was going on,” Fielder said. “And then that (engagement) came up, so we had to cancel.”

Fielder said he and Betty would be “going out somewhere” to find a TV showing the game because he couldn’t get it at his house.

“We’ll see the topic of the ceremony and then watch the game, or at least part of it depending on how it’s going,” he said with a chuckle.

He said he spoke briefly with the team representative about the possibility of attending a game this spring once the weather warms up and COVID-19 may begin to subside.

Hot Ticket

Tickets to the game were the most expensive followed by New York-based TicketIQ of the last five NHL arena openings.

The company, which uses proprietary software to track 90% of the secondary ticket market, said the cheapest seat for Saturday’s game was listed at $ 339.

The next closest prize is $ 242 for the upcoming UBS Arena opening game in November in Long Island, New York. Rogers Place in Edmonton opened in 2016 with a cheapest ticket list price of $ 225.

Local officials

The two linesmen who worked for Saturday night’s game have ties to the Seattle area. Ryan Gibbons, from British Columbia, played junior hockey for the Thunderbirds as a winger from 2002-03 to 2005-06.

And Vaughan Rody, who left his native Winnipeg years ago to come to Washington State and work as an on-ice official in the Western Hockey League, lives in Lake Stevens.

Keep it simple

Kraken center Yanni Gourde said the team will simplify their game even further against the Canucks.

The Kraken have spent their recent road trip getting caught both ways in transition play – getting burned in weird rushes after returning the puck and being too slow to capitalize offensively on similar opportunities.

Gourd with defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning was at his best when the puck was dropped on the opponent’s side and he and his teammates crushed the boards with a strong forward check to take possession.

“Our game has to be simpler,” Gourde said. “Just pull the puck and go to work. Rotate their D (defenders). Make it hard on them. I think these are small things that we have to keep working on. This is what we have been doing in recent days.

“And I think it’s just going to go towards our identity. We want to be a tough team to face and I think that’s definitely part of it. “

Anticipation for Dunn

A recent trip to a Seahawks game at Lumen Field sparked excitement from Kraken defenseman Vince Dunn for his team’s home opener.

“Watching my first Hawks game here definitely changed my life,” Dunn said after Saturday morning practice. “I didn’t really think a building could be that loud. So I’m sure a lot of these fans or maybe different people who are more hockey-oriented are going to come here tonight to do the same.

“Our expectations are high, but I’m sure they’re going to blow the roof off, and I think we’re so excited to take that on.”

Dunn certainly did, scoring the first goal in arena history with 3.2 seconds left in the first period.


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