SEATTLE – The Kraken have been without a captain for a season and change. It doesn’t sound as though they’re ready to pin the “C” on anyone yet.
“We’ll continue with the same group that we have right now, with the assistant captains, and continue that way into this year,” coach Dave Hakstol said Friday after the second day of training camp at Kraken Community Iceplex.
Last season, four alternate captains, Jordan Eberle, Yanni Gourde, Adam Larsson and Jaden Schwartz, took turns wearing the “A” on game days. All four have been with the team since the Kraken’s first road trip and any could justifiably be promoted.
But just as the front office doubled down on the existing group this offseason, leaving it largely unchanged, the coaching staff is sticking to the formula for now.
“We’ve got a lot of faith in the core group,” Hakstol said. “That starts with our assistant captains, but it goes deeper than that.
“We’ve got some really good young players that are good people, that understand the game and the process, and also in their own way can push and lead.”
The Kraken’s first and only captain was Mark Giordano, who was traded in March 2022, less than a season into his tenure. His heir apparent is widely rumored to be Matty Beniers, who won the Calder Trophy as the league’s rookie of the year this summer and was the team’s lone All-Star Game selection last season. He wore an “A” his sophomore year at Michigan before turning pro.
He’ll turn 21 in November.
Giving a teenager the captaincy isn’t unheard of. The NHL’s longest-tenured captain, Sidney Crosby, took on the role at 19 on May 31, 2007. Edmonton Oilers star Connor McDavid became the youngest captain in NHL history in 2016.
Edmonton held the spot open for him, opting for four alternate captains in 2015-2016, including Eberle.
“He was kind of mature beyond his years,” Eberle said last year. “He was 19 years old, but I always say he carried himself like he was a tenured vet. I’m sure he was raised that way. From a young age, I’m sure he was told he was going to be ‘The Next One.’ And obviously, he hasn’t disappointed.”
For the second straight year, the Kraken are one of six teams heading into the season without a captain. The Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes and Philadelphia Flyers are still without one. Chicago Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson announced this week that the team will leave the job open out of respect for Jonathan Toews, their captain of nearly 15 years, who is stepping away from the game at least temporarily as he deals with health concerns.
Like the Kraken, the Calgary Flames still haven’t named a replacement for former captain Giordano, whom Seattle selected in the expansion draft. Veteran forward Blake Coleman teased an upcoming announcement to the Calgary Sun on Friday, however.
And seemingly like the Kraken, the Blackhawks have an eye on the future. They have this year’s top overall draft pick, Connor Bedard, in the fold. His name is already being tossed around for a future captaincy.
In May, Hakstol mentioned discussions about naming a captain in the offseason, but indicated he was pleased with the status quo.
“It’s (about) how that group works together and the communication that they have,” the coach said. “Their ability to be on the same page. In our opinion, that really empowered our group this year. That group was an extremely effective, driving force within our dressing room.”