NHL Season Preview 2021

NHL Season Preview 2021

Jacob Sloan, Reporter

There is a new team in Seattle!
The Seattle Kraken are the second inaugural NHL team in the last 5 years with the Vegas Golden Knights being the last team to enter the league in 2017. Seattle picked their roster at the Expansion Draft in the harbor of Seattle on July 21st, 2021.
Jeremy Lauzon was the first player to ever be picked by the Kraken, with Mark Giordano, Jordan Eberle, and Vitek Vanecek were the Best overall selections in the draft. Seven days later, the Kraken ended up trading Vitek back to the Washington Capitals, his former team. They were given draft picks and later signed free agent goalie, Phillip Grubauer, who is now the starter for the team. So far, the Kraken have looked good, but not great, in the regular season, with a record of 1-3-1. 

Covid-19 

We all know the struggles of Covid-19 and it has affected sports. This includes more preparation and safety measures to play. The NHL was tasked with making a covid-19 Bubble for 24 teams to play in a tournament for the 2020 Stanley cup. This was the first time it had ever been done in hockey history. After the Tampa Bay lightning won the cup on September 28th, the NHL went right into the next season, just 3 months later starting on January 13th. This season, fans were not allowed at games right away, as the only team that had fans in attendance was the Florida Panthers. At the time, Covid-19 vaccines where not here yet, not until people started getting the vaccine is when fans were allowed back at 20-25% capacity. Late in the season and when Vaccination rates were high is when fans were welcomed back in time for the playoffs to start. Coming into the 2021-2022 season according to Commissioner Gary Bettman, the league only has 4 players out of 713 unvaccinated. 

The road to Gretsky  

Alex Ovechkin, captain of the Washington Capitals, is entering his 17th NHL season. Alex is 157 goals away from breaking the all-time Goal scoring record. Currently, the record is held by Wayne Gretsky, who is known as the “Great One”. Ovechkin currently sits at 737 goals and is set to play a full 82 game season, which he has not done since the 2019 season. Many people think he can catch Gretsky as he just recently signed a 5-year extension for an annual cap value of 9.5 million per year. Alex would need to average 30-35 goals per season over the next 5 years to be #1 all time. He is currently at a pace scoring 9 goals in 8 games to total 92 goals this season. It is a long shot but if he can keep firing goals in, he could do it within 3 years instead of the projected 5 years. 

Hockey In Hidden Valley 

You might know friends and family who watch hockey, but did you know there are teachers in Hidden valley who also enjoy watching? Specifically, Assistant Principal Mr. Jablonski and Math Teacher Mr. Schmitt are huge hockey fans.  

Mr. Jablonski when asked how long he has been watching Hockey. Mr. Jablonski responded with, “I have been watching hockey all my life off and on.  I enjoy watching the Chicago Blackhawks and going to see the Rail Yard Dawgs from time to time.” Often, someone Like a Family member or Friend gets you into watching, For Mr. Jablonski, He started when he was little. He said, “I used to play hockey when I was younger in a pee-wee league, so I guess I have been watching off and on all my life due to participation when I was younger.” When asked about what he looks most forward to this season, He replied with. “The Chicago Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup or at least them getting into the playoffs!”  

Soon after I got with Mr. Schmitt to Ask him a few questions, I asked, how long have you been watching hockey? He replied with, “I have been watching hockey since I was a kid. Growing up in Pittsburgh, we had professional sports in every season that were televised for every game. That made being a fan easy when you could watch every game. Not to mention back then most players stayed with a team for most, if not all their career. You actually knew who would be on the team every year.” Mr. Schmitt is obsessed with any Pittsburgh related team, I asked him what he was looking forward to seeing from the Penguins this season. He replied with, “I would like to see the Penguins made a run deep into the playoffs. The team is getting old by hockey standards, and they need the veteran players show the young guys how to step up and win. They only have a couple of years left with the present squad to make a run for another title.” When watching hockey or playing, there is always a memory you can remember that sticks with you forever, I asked Mr. Schmitt what that memory was. He replied with, “I have several favorite hockey memories, and all of them revolve around being with my friends in high school watching the games. Whether it was at the game or sitting in someone’s basement watching the game, just spending time with friends cheering for the team are great memories.”