SEATTLE KRAKEN

Rivalry? Not yet as Kraken still haven’t figured out Canucks

Dec 23, 2022, 10:44 AM
Kraken Jordan Eberle...
Vancouver's Luke Schenn delivers a hit on the Kraken's Jordan Eberle on Dec. 22, 2022. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

The Seattle Kraken were in Vancouver on Thursday night and lost a game they probably should have won. They allowed the Canucks to score twice late in the game, blowing a 5-3 lead to eventually lose 6-5 in the shootout.

It was a stinging loss against the rival Canucks, but the silver lining is that they salvaged a point in the standings.

Petterson leads Canucks’ comeback, Kraken lose in shootout

It was a tough loss, but are the Canucks really the Kraken’s rival?

In the run up to the birth of the Kraken, it was assumed that Vancouver and Seattle would be natural rivals. They play in the same division and are only a few hours drive apart. Certainly that would lead to animosity. But it hasn’t.

There’s little better in sports than a true rivalry. Tense games between franchises that truly dislike each other, where the goosebumps and blood boils just at the sight of the other team’s jersey. Games where the fans, front offices, and popcorn sellers are all fired up when they play.

You can’t force these things.

True rivalries usually begin due to something that happened on the ice, and for a franchise still in its infancy, there’s been no bad blood between Vancouver and Seattle. Yes, during expansion you had friendly Twitter jabs between our governor and the British Columbia premiere, but those were mostly in jest and are long forgotten.

The two cities are close and do play four times a season, but still, so far, the Canucks are just another team on the schedule.

For it truly to be a rivalry, each team has to have its share of success against each other, which helps these games become back and forth affairs. Since the Kraken were born, they’ve played six times. Seattle is 0-5-1 against Vancouver, including Thursday’s debacle.

The Kraken need to start winning some of these games to heat things up.

Vancouver is not good and nobody hates them

The Canucks have struggled this year and are looking up at Seattle in the Pacific Division standings. Last season the roles were reversed with the Kraken buried in the division standings while Vancouver was trying to get into the postseason.

It would help the cause if the two teams were locked in a tight race in the standings, but for now Kraken fans don’t even need to scoreboard watch or root against the Canucks.

Vancouver players are likable so far, as well. It’s a far cry from the Canucks of the early 2000s who would beat you but also annoy you. Those were teams where you could generate a rivalry with.

When Elias Pettersson wired a wrister from the faceoff circle with under two to go Thursday to tie the game 5-5, the thought wasn’t, ‘I can’t stand that guy!’ but more, ‘Wow, that’s a nice young talent who has two goals and three assists tonight.” It is more a feeling of reluctant admiration than a sports hate.

The two teams got into three fights in the first period during their initial matchup on Oct. 27, and there was hope that maybe something was brewing. But those fights were more about the Canucks who had yet to win a game in the early season trying to motivate themselves. It felt amusing rater than anything else. Yes, Seattle’s Brandon Tanev shed the gloves Thursday in a second period fight against Vancouver’s Kyle Burroughs, but it was an isolated incident more than anything else.

After the morning skate on Thursday, Kraken coach Dave Hakstol and forward Jared McCann were both asked if the game had any extra meaning and both replied that it was a division game so the points were important. Even McCann, who was a first-round pick by the Canucks in 2014 only to be traded after one season, had no bad blood.

“That was a long time ago,” McCann said with a smile when asked about extra meaning to the game. “It’s water under the bridge, right? I’m always going to be thankful to the Canucks for drafting me and giving me an opportunity to play in the NHL and it’s been amazing.”

Certainly a far cry from rivalry talk.

If not Vancouver, who?

If it’s not Vancouver, who are the Kraken’s rivals?

This early in the game, that still remains unknown. There is a chance that it becomes the Vegas Golden Knights, who are also division foes and a fellow recent expansion team. Seattle recently beat the Golden Knights for the first time and there was a little animosity in their first-ever meeting when Vegas forward Mark Stone was critical of the way Morgan Geekie celebrated a goal.

Stone was upset by Geekie twirling his stick in celebration of a goal that tied the game in the third period. He also felt Geekie stared down the Vegas bench after. Whether he was inventing a slight to get his team going or not, there was a glimmer of animosity there.

Still, you can’t manufacture these things.

Seattle’s first true rival will come from a playoff race and/or an actual playoff series. Not much in hockey builds hatred and animosity like a tough seven-game series where one team ends the season for another.

The Kraken have to get there first, and it could end up being Vancouver this year or beyond. For now, we can all pretend that Vancouver is Seattle’s rival but it’s more about geography and not true animosity.

It would help if the Kraken can get a win against them.

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