MAURA DOOLEY

Dooley: Which Seattle Kraken players have similarities to Seahawks?

Nov 3, 2021, 1:12 PM
Seattle Kraken Jamie Oleksiak...
Jamie Oleksiak of the Seattle Kraken skates against the Vancouver Canucks during the franchise's inaugural home game at the Climate Pledge Arena. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
(Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The first homestand in Seattle Kraken history is in the books and it’s abundantly clear how passionate this fan base is for their new team.

What’s going into Tanev’s surprise breakout start for the Seattle Kraken?

What’s not to like? We have a spectacular arena, a fun, hard-hitting team that never counts themselves out and arguably the best uniforms in the NHL.

There is however, a lot to learn and many people are starting from scratch since there hasn’t been a team to root for in the area since the Seattle Metropolitans folded in 1924.

A Mike Salk Show listener recently proposed the idea of helping those that are new to all of this decide what Kraken player’s sweater to purchase by finding some past and present Seahawks comparisons.

Here are some nominees…

Yanni Gourde: Doug Baldwin

Yanni Gourde went undrafted, spending four seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League before signing with the Tampa Bay Lightning’s AHL team, the Syracuse Crunch in 2014. He was always considered undersized at 5 foot 9, 173-pounder and had to grind for years before he finally saw significant NHL playing time in 2017.

He spent his time in Tampa playing on their third line due to the star power ahead of him, but he most certainly played a role in their back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships.

Last season, Gourde had seven goals (two game winners) and seven assists in 25 playoff games. He describes himself as relentless and it’s apparent in the way he approaches every single game. Gourde plays like he has something to prove and doesn’t let a size mismatch get in the way of a good fight.

That tenacity and full-throttle style of play can sometimes get under opponent’s skin, but it’s exactly what makes him a great leader and teammate.

Undrafted, underrated, undersized, clutch and feisty…who else could Yanni Gourde compare to but Doug Baldwin?

Baldwin came to be known as “Angry Doug” during his time with the Seahawks. His teammate Richard Sherman told SI’s Greg Bishop back in this 2016 story: “Doug is like the little brother I never wanted. I want him to be happy. I’m like: Dude, relax.”

It seems like Gourde is on the same wavelength in his own Sports Illustrated interview from 2018. “They tell me, ‘Just (expletive) relax, Yanni,’” he said. “’You don’t have to be so hard.’ But that’s the way I am. I make a bad pass and I come on the bench and I’m pissed at myself because I should’ve made a better play. It’s who I am. It’s what I’ve always done.”

If you loved Angry Doug, Yanni Gourde just might be the Kraken player for you.

Brandon Tanev: Ryan Neal

Brandon Tanev’s Seahawks counterpart jumped out as Ryan Neal. Both players went undrafted and had to work tirelessly to earn their chances, are known for bringing a contagious energy to their teams, and have personalities that have made them fan favorites.

Neal made a name for himself with the Seahawks last year when he was called up from the practice squad in Week 3 because Jamal Adams was dealing with a groin injury. Neal immediately made his presence felt, flying all around the field and landing the game-sealing interception of Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott. He’s done nothing but show up when given the opportunity ever since.

Pete Carroll raved about him after the Seahawks win over the 49ers a few weeks ago. “He’s a great competitor, he’s a great practice player, he’s a great inspiration to these guys,” Carroll said. “They love everything about the guy because he’s so tough and he cares so much. It’s so important to him and he gives you everything he’s got.”

Brandon Tanev has a similar reputation for his work ethic and elevating the players around him with his constant drive. Despite being one of the smaller guys on the ice at only 6 feet tall and 180 pounds, Tanev is a strong defender, leading his former team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, in hits last year with 139. It’s a mentality that doesn’t go unnoticed.

“When you don’t have him, you realize how important he is to our group,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “He’s a tough kid. For a guy that plays the game the way he does, he’s a durable player. He plays night in and night out, and he never takes a night off. He plays the game hard. He brings a physical presence to our team game. He plays the game with so much energy, I think his energy is contagious for the rest of our group.”

That hard work has Tanev off to an even better start than anyone could have imagined with the Seattle Kraken.

Everyone expected a grinder that would play solid defense and bring the energy, but no one expected Tanev to be the team’s leading goal scorer with six already netted through nine games. The experts seem to expect those numbers to drop off at some point, but Tanev has earned his way into more playing time than he’s ever seen before and you can be sure that he will make the most of it.

Jamie Oleksiak: Kam Chancellor

Jamie Oleksiak’s Seahawks counterpart is none other than Kam Chancellor. Both players are physically intimidating enough to give you an idea that you want no part of them before you ever see what they are capable of in game.

Chancellor looked more like a linebacker than a safety, playing at 6-3 and 232 pounds. Jamie Oleksiak is one of the biggest players in the NHL at 6-7 and 250 pounds.

When it comes to defense, these guys make their living by doling out punishing hits.

Chancellor finished his career with 607 combined tackles, 12 interceptions and a few stolen souls…I’m just guessing.

Oleksiak was one of the NHL’s top hitters last year. He led his former team, the Dallas Stars with 148 hits and blocked 88 shots. He is picking up where he left off with the Seattle Kraken as he is currently tied for the team lead in hits with Tanev at 32.

IF that’s not enough to convince you, they also both have great nicknames. Oleksiak goes by “Big Rig” while Chancellor was known as “Bam Bam Kam.”

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Dooley: Which Seattle Kraken players have similarities to Seahawks?