After a week off, I’m back to share some takes with you all. If you want to see some pictures of my (socially-distanced) road trip vacation, here you go.
Otherwise, the last two weeks could not have been a busier week in the NHL. Real, live, hockey games took place and the NHL is back! Also, Seattle finally announced the name of their new franchise, the Seattle Kraken.
Keep reading to find out my thoughts on what’s going on in the world of hockey.
1. Welcome to the Show, Seattle Kraken
The team nickname and uniforms for the NHL’s 32nd franchise are set. The Seattle Kraken will be the newest team to play in the NHL. If you’re curious about my thoughts, as well as what the other Puck Junk writers thought, we wrote about it here.
For those who won’t read that story, I do like the name and uniforms. Do I think the Seattle franchise hit a home run? Not yet. I am happy that they didn’t choose to name the team the Metropolitans or do something bland. They did something original and city-specific, which is exactly what I wanted to see. The colors and uniforms are really growing on me, too. Whenever they drop merch I’ll probably buy a hat or something.
Look at the uniform concepts Bauer designed:
Sea-ze the future!
— BAUER Hockey (@BauerHockey) July 23, 2020
An ocean of possibilities with Bauer Goalie’s #DigiPrint!
— BAUER Hockey (@BauerHockey) July 24, 2020
These are awesome. If the real gloves and pads look anything like this I’ll be tuning in to all Kraken games. The colors are unique and eye-popping. There aren’t many NHL teams that have green in their colors, especially anything as light as what the Kraken will use. Here is what their uniforms will look like.
Thoughts on the new threads? pic.twitter.com/GauTQurIQA
— Spittin’ Chiclets (@spittinchiclets) July 23, 2020
These jerseys are fresh. What I like most about them is that they’re not safe. Unlike what the Golden Knights did, Seattle took a chance and added something new. Whoever suits up for the Kraken is going to own the ice with these uniforms. Welcome to the show, Seattle Kraken.
P.S. – The Kraken are one of the few teams in the big four leagues without an “S” at the end of their name. I love that.
2. We Missed Sports, Including Hockey
Last week, ESPN released a poll indicating that fans are very excited for sports to return. Seeing as almost all American sports have been suspended since mid-March, this is no surprise.
The poll also found that 59% of fans would watch as much as possible.
I’m definitely in this 59%. Typically, the worst day on the sports calendar is the day after the MLB All-Star Game. During the summer, the MLB is the only major North American sport in action, other than the MLS. The MLB All-Star break stops baseball games on a Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in mid-July. That Monday is when the Home Run Derby is hosted and the All-Star Game is on Tuesday. That leaves that Wednesday as a black hole for sports fans.
I thought that Wednesday was bad. This spring and summer, we went months without a live sporting event. The NHL specifically went over three months without a live game.
That being said, we made it. The first live regular-season games were played on Saturday, August 1. We all deserve a pat on the back for making it through.
Still, our hard work is not over. If we want to start going to games in the near future, we have to continue wearing masks and social distancing. COVID-19 won’t stop spreading just because we’re tired of it. Keep it up, people.
3. Chayka Out as Arizona GM
In one of the more odd stories post quarantine, John Chayka has stepped down as the GM and President of hockey operations for the Arizona Coyotes. Chayka made headlines in 2016 when he became the youngest GM in NHL history. Chayka also recently signed an extension with the club that would have run through the 2024 season had he not stepped down.
I became aware of this when I saw this tweet by Pete Blackburn:
This is as bitter of a team statement as I’ve ever seen lol pic.twitter.com/D9TTBasOxy
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) July 26, 2020
I read the full statement and I was shocked. First, the timing of Chayka’s decision is not great. He decided to step down right before the team headed into the bubble. Also, the Coyotes are on the rise and that’s primarily due to Chayka’s moves as GM. He acquired both Phil Kessel and Taylor Hall. Hall is due to become a UFA this offseason and the Coyotes were interested in bringing him back on a long-term deal. Chayka’s quitting really doesn’t help Arizona and their goal to re-sign Hall or other UFAs.
Second, this statement is indeed bitter like Blackburn said. Typically, teams take the high road and avoid any sort of controversy when things like this happen. The Coyotes didn’t take that approach. While the statement doesn’t lack professionalism, it surely makes their feelings clear. Chayka quit on the team.
I actually like the way the Coyotes approached it. Chayka was under contract and put the organization in a bad spot. While I always support an individual’s desire to do what’s best for them and their family, there is a right and a wrong way to do that. I don’t know all the details on why Chayka stepped down, but the Coyotes are entitled to their opinion. The club also announced that Steve Sullivan has been named the interim GM, replacing Chayka.
I did some digging and I found this article by Bleacher Report. According to the article, Chayka asked to meet with a member of the New Jersey Devils ownership. Typically, that’s not a good thing. But, Chayka told Coyotes owner Alex Merulo it wasn’t for a job interview but to “build relationships with owners in hockey.”
After the meeting, Chayka told Meruelo that he wanted to pursue a role in the Devils’ organization, a position higher than GM. Meruelo refused to let Chayka out of his contract which hurt their relationship. Apparently the job Chayka actually wants was one in hockey operations, which would be a lateral move from GM. This pissed off Meruelo and broke their relationship. That is what led to Chayka quitting.
I don’t know if all that is true. If it is, Chayka really played himself. Again, I’m all for individuals doing what’s best for them. But, honesty is the best policy. If Chayka wanted a different role for whatever reason, it probably would have been best to just come out and say that, not lie about it. This really sucks for Coyotes fans. I’ll be interested to see if they’re able to sign Hall and where Chayka ends up when next season starts.
4. Diversity in the NHL
I think we all knew the NHL is one of the most diverse leagues in pro sports. I would say the NHL has players for more countries than any other. I don’t know that to be true, but I’m guessing. I saw this graphic the NHL posted on Instagram and I thought it was interesting.
View this post on Instagram
When I saw this, I was shocked at the number of countries represented. I had no idea there were players from Bulgaria, Estonia, Italy, Kazakhstan, and the Netherlands represented in the NHL. I’m also surprised at the few numbers of players from Switzerland and Slovakia. Those two nations have never produced an outlandish amount of NHL players, but they always seem to do well in international competitions and boast a lot of NHL talent. Both nations have many high-profile players, Roman Josi (Switzerland) and Tomas Tatar (Slovakia) for example. I just assumed there were more players from each country in the NHL.
For our Canadian readers, you can continue your gloating. Canada still reigns supreme with over 100 more players than the US, the next-closest nation.
But we all know Canada is looking for one of their NHL teams to bring home another Stanley Cup.
5. Our First Fight Back
There were a lot of games that were played last week and the weekend. One of my favorite things I saw was this fight between Brian Boyle and Mikhail Sergachyov.
WE GOT A BUBBLE TILLY pic.twitter.com/zaON0cAYeI
— Spittin’ Chiclets (@spittinchiclets) July 29, 2020
When I saw this on Twitter it got me jacked up for hockey’s return. Just two big dudes throwing their fists around like they don’t care. I love the smile on Boyle’s face at the end, too. You can tell he’s juiced up to be on the ice again.
Boyle definitely got the better of Sergachyov, but Sergachyov held his own. Regardless, hockey is f@#%ing back. ■