By Tim Booth
SEATTLE (AP) — It didn’t take long for Mark Giordano to get years of seeing red out of his system. The former longtime Calgary Flames defenseman didn’t even flinch Thursday while pulling on the jersey of a different team for the first time in his career.
Give an assist to his wife for making sure Seattle Kraken blue has been the dominant color for him ever since Giordano was selected by the NHL’s newest franchise in the league’s expansion draft over the summer.
“My wife’s done a good job of surrounding my family with Kraken T-shirts and now we can get some jerseys that they’re for sale,” Giordano said.
Giordano and the rest of the Kraken’s roster hit the ice for the first time as a team with the start of training camp Thursday. It was the first step toward Seattle’s debut on Oct. 12 at Vegas and came exactly a month before the Kraken open their home arena against Vancouver.
While Seattle’s roster is a mix of veterans and some young talent looking for an opportunity, no one on the roster comes close to Giordano’s years on the ice.
After 15 years in Calgary — the past eight as the Flames’ captain — coming to Seattle is a fresh opportunity for the nearly 38-year-old veteran.
And nothing is more exciting than the first day of camp.
“It wasn’t light out for a little while but I wasn’t first at the rink, I can tell you that,” coach Dave Hakstol said. “Everyone was here earlier, everybody was excited to get going. Overall, it was a good first day for everybody to get under their belts.”
Giordano was in the first group to take the ice shortly after 9:30 a.m. They were greeted by applause from fans who showed up at the team’s $80 million practice facility for a glimpse of Seattle’s players.
Most of the team has been in town for a couple of weeks having informal workouts.
“All the guys were here earlier than I’ve seen groups on other teams come in,” forward Jordan Eberle said. “We were all here for two weeks in advance to camp. I think that was just everyone wanted to get here, get settled obviously being new, getting a chance to meet the guys, joke around in the locker room, start some camaraderie within the group. That bonding is huge.”
Seattle plays the first of six preseason games Sunday against the Canucks in Spokane, Washington. Because the team is entirely new both Hakstol and some of the players said they would like to keep the pairings from the first day together for a bit to see how it develops.
“We’ve only got a certain amount of time so what we would like to do is put some combinations together and see what that looks like,” Hakstol said. “In order to see that you have to give it two or three days to build together, possibly even leave it together through one exhibition game and then we have the opportunity to look at a different combination.”
One unexpected sight was forward Yanni Gourde working with the second practice group, albeit wearing a red no-contact jersey. Gourde had shoulder surgery in July shortly before the expansion draft and was expected to miss the first two months of the regular season.
While that still might be the case, general manager Ron Francis said Gourde is ahead of schedule in his recovery.
“We’re finding out he’s a tough guy to hold back,” Francis said. “He’s really worked hard.”
NOTES: Francis said Seattle’s entire roster has received its COVID-19 vaccinations. ... One noticeable absence on the first day was center Colin Blackwell, who is day-to-day with a lower body injury, Hakstol said.