The Kraken carved a day out of training camp for leisure time with a purpose. They spent the night about an hour and a half from Seattle in Cle Elum and golfed at Suncadia Resort.
“My game’s not very good, but Suncadia’s awesome,” coach Dave Hakstol said.
Last year’s Kraken team retreat of sorts in Kananaskis, Alberta, which featured options for hiking, biking and golf, was the first of its kind after COVID restrictions were lifted. It drew rave reviews. The ability to spend time together off the ice was seen as a missing piece from the year before.
“You want to go to war with guys you know,” winger Jared McCann reasoned.
Last year they took advantage of a gap in a road trip. This year they kept it quick and close to home.
“Everybody joined. It was great,” McCann said. “A lot of the European guys don’t really golf too much — you can tell, definitely. But we paired them with some better players and we had a good day.”
Hopefully he wasn’t referring to Finnish forward Eeli Tolvanen, who is an avid golfer. German goaltender Philipp Grubauer is working on his game. He played a few times this summer, he said.
“Slow and steady and straight is the key for me right now,” Grubauer said, adding he was pleased with how he was driving the ball Saturday.
“There are some guys on our team who are unbelievable — (Justin) Schultz, (Jordan) Eberle, (Cale) Fleury.”
Rumor had it Fleury enjoyed the best day at Suncadia. KJR’s Mike Benton reported he shot even par.
The Kraken were back on the ice Sunday morning before 10 a.m. ahead of their preseason home finale Monday night against the Edmonton Oilers. Seattle (2-1) will finish out the week on the road, make several additional cuts, whittle and polish before the regular-season opener Oct. 10 against the Vegas Golden Knights.
“Now golf season’s over. Time to get back into it,” Grubauer said. “Obviously we’re focused on winning something else besides a golf tournament.”
Most of last season’s established pairings and line combinations have remained intact during training camp. However, Kraken alternate captain Adam Larsson was paired with Peetro Seppala in practice on Friday and Ryker Evans on Sunday. A learning experience for the young defensemen was born of necessity.
Vince Dunn didn’t play in Thursday’s preseason game against the Vancouver Canucks — defensive partner Larsson didn’t either, for the record — and the Kraken’s top-paid player practice wasn’t seen with either group Friday or Sunday.
“Right now it’s just a maintenance day for Vince,” Hakstol said Sunday.
Dunn played in the Seattle edition of the split-squad games against Calgary on Sept. 25 and registered an assist in 27:34 of ice time. He has practiced since then.
Dunn, 26, agreed to terms of a four-year, $29.4 million deal on July 21, days before the restricted free agent’s arbitration hearing. He was coming off a career-high 14 goals and 64 points in the regular season. Dunn and Larsson made up the top pairing the entire 2022-23 campaign.