The kraken. A terrorizing ocean monster that lays dormant until opportunity emerges. Withdrawn into the dark abyss, recuperating from prior wars. Starving. Twitching with built-up aggression. Ready to ravage the unassuming merchant vessels that are carving up the seas above — and now, a storm is brewing. Winds are picking up and seas begin to turn. On the surface, nothing is going right, but below… deep below, resides the source of an imminent, cataclysmic event.
I’m sure you may be thinking, “Um, am I reading Scandinavian folklore here, or a hockey article?” If I were to try to fuse the legend of the kraken with the current reality of Seattle’s new NHL franchise, I would certainly fall short. There is nothing dangerous, or even ominous, about Seattle’s hockey team at the moment — what you see is simply what you get. Right now, that’s not much. But if one had to come up with an NHL franchise that embodied the legend of the kraken, there is uncanny personifying potential here, and it can be conjured when looking to the Vegas Golden Knights.
Now, wait a minute… am I pushing for Golden Knights fans to embrace and show an affinity towards the “Kraken” team or team name? Not exactly. That would be cruel and borderline betrayal. Am I suggesting that Knights general manager (GM), Kelly McCrimmon should FaceTime Kraken GM Ron Francis immediately to initiate the first ever “team name” trade? Well, no, because Francis may go on to demand a couple of first-round picks for his team nickname once he realizes how closely the legend of the kraken really harnesses Vegas’ unfolding situation. Wouldn’t that be something.
No, I’m simply entertaining a connection here, the elements of which bind the fabled tale of the kraken with the current state of the Golden Knights — and hey, the fruits of this discovery may leave Golden Knights fans in joyous anticipation of things to come.
Golden Knights: Reasons For Optimism
So, are the Golden Knights a walking, talking… err, skating, metaphor for a tentacled sea creature that destroys ships in stormy waters? Well, let’s start with what should be obvious. Both the Golden Knights and the kraken are juggernauts that are only foolishly reckoned with. Like the kraken monster, Vegas, as a whole, has seen its share of battles and is beaten down, injured and perhaps, being underestimated.
Sniper Max Pacioretty is out with a broken foot, while Swiss army knife Mark Stone is still sidelined with a lower-body injury. Add to that list, William Karlsson, Zach Whitecloud and Nolan Patrick — all important parts of a winning equation. Finally, and significantly, consider that newly acquired superstar Jack Eichel will be unable to participate for months as he undergoes the uncertainties of artificial disc replacement surgery. Metaphorically, the menacing tentacles of the sea monster have been temporarily severed, leaving only the shell of a once infamously destructive force.
Indeed, the Golden Knights are in a relative hockey abyss right now — submerged way below the familiarities of successful, and really, normal hockey life. The larger, although still short, sample size of Vegas hockey history shows dominance and unparalleled expansion franchise success. So, is reality catching up? Is the time upon us for pains, woes and habitual losing? Should we throw in the towel on hope?
No. The juggernaut that is the Golden Knights franchise has just momentarily retreated — it’s healing. On the surface, shipping vessels (other hockey teams) again begin to float around — without fear, essentially running amok, as the monster tends to its wounds. But the the skies will again contract, and the storm will once again mast, drawing to the surface a fully intact and actualized Vegas team. One that will dominate and destroy whatever stands in front of it.
Doubts? The final comparison between the Golden Knights and kraken monster lays in the nature of the entity itself — the method of attack, or art of war; the approach to victory. Both are characterized by “surprise.” A merchant vessel at the mercy of the kraken, will suddenly be cracked and split, enveloped in slimy and crippling appendages and shortly thereafter, sunk. Let me ask you this: how many people has Vegas surprised over the years? How many teams underestimated the Golden Knights early on in their inaugural season? How many underestimate them now? How many teams are placed above Vegas for odds to win the Stanley Cup in 2021-22? Another surprise may be on the horizon.
How Will Golden Knights’ Season Play Out?
Firstly, I’d like to thank Seattle for unwittingly loaning me their team moniker for the sake of this opinion piece. It’s all good fun and helped me illustrate the hopeful circumstances that Vegas finds itself in. There is certainly much to be optimistic about, both in the medium term (later this season) and in the longer term (future seasons).
I believe that once Vegas can ice a healthy lineup, a playoff berth will only be the beginning of their 2021-22 success. Yes, uncertainties loom — especially around the Eichel integration (surgery aftermath and on-ice chemistry) — but I believe that the team will once again elicit that characteristic element of “surprise” from hockey viewers, while simultaneously stirring fear in the collective hearts of the competition.
Look for a deep playoff run this year.
Christian is from Vancouver, B.C. He is a contributor to the Vegas Golden Knights. Christian completed both his history degree and his education degree at the University of British Columbia. He currently works as a high school history teacher. Christian spends his spare time watching, researching and writing about hockey.