Seattle Kraken analyst J.T. Brown shares the positive signs he’s seeing
The first-ever Seattle Kraken regular season has finally arrived after (really, years) of waiting, and excitement is naturally through the roof for Seattle’s newest professional sports franchise.
Seattle Kraken analyst J.T. Brown, a former forward with six years of NHL experience who calls the team’s games alongside John Forslund for ROOT Sports, recently joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy to help us all get ready for the team’s inaugural season, which started Tuesday night with a narrow 4-3 loss to Vegas where the Golden Knights scored the winning goal in controversial fashion.
Listen to Brown’s interview in the podcast here. We’ll break down some key points below.
Fans are naturally hyped about the Seattle Kraken kicking off their inaugural season, and Brown has seen that up close. During practices and even back to July’s expansion draft, Brown saw a very active fanbase, something he knows the players are recognizing that, too.
“It’s definitely something special,” Brown said of fan excitement. “… You can’t ignore that, it’s just there always around you. There’s just so much buzz going on in the city so you know they’re excited.”
While players come and go in any sport, many faces stay the same from one year to the next.
That’s not the case for the Kraken, though, as they have an entire roster of guys who aside from the preseason and practices had never shared NHL ice together. As a result, the team chemistry is not as on point as the other 31 NHL teams. Brown said that’s worth mentioning but thinks they’re finding their way.
“It does play a factor and that’s why preseason games for Seattle were more important than maybe some of the other teams that have been together for a long time,” Brown said. “Just getting to know how each other are on the ice … The off-ice part is a little easier, so just learning tendencies is key and you got to see a little bit of that progression throughout the preseason.”
Head coach Dave Hakstol
The first-ever head coach of the Seattle Kraken is Dave Hakstol, a legendary coach in the college ranks who didn’t have too much success in his three-plus years running the Philadelphia Flyers. It’s been so far, so good for Hakstol in Seattle from Brown’s perspective.
“Just from watching practice and the pace they’re pushing,” he said, “and the way they’re playing in games regardless of the score or the wins and losses in the games, the overall identity of the team has been good, and that starts with the coaching staff.”
Expectations for goalie Philipp Grubauer
It appeared the Seattle Kraken had their No. 1 goalie when they selected Chris Driedger in the expansion draft. But soon after, one of the league’s top goalies, Philipp Grubauer, signed with Seattle on a six-year, $35.4 million deal rather than staying with the Colorado Avalanche.
Brown has high hopes for Grubauer as the last line of defense for the Seattle Kraken.
“I expect what we saw in the final preseason game,” Brown said, pointing to Grubauer’s 25-save shutout performance against the Vancouver Canucks on Oct. 5. “He’s a very, very good goaltender. There’s a reason he was up for the Vezina Trophy (given annually to the league’s top goalie) last year. He’s more than likely, as the starting goalie, to log a lot of minutes for this team. If he can play to his ability that’s only going to help this team in the long run.”
Grubauer was impressive even while allowing four goals in the loss Tuesday night, making 26 saves and doing his best to give the Kraken a shot to win while the team worked to find chemistry against a potential Stanley Cup contender in Vegas.
For even more from Brown, check out his interview from Wednesday morning on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Mike Salk Show here specifically breaking down Tuesday’s Kraken opener.