A Poor Team or Unrealistic Expectations?
As the Seattle fan base begins to lose its patience who is to blame? The team? Ron Francis? Or the Vegas Golden Knights?
The loss to Calgary last night was another bitter blow for a franchise which has had it's fair share of them in its first few months of existence.
A match which saw the Kraken blow the lead twice, and give up a goal thirteen seconds after tying the match, would be enough to make any fan feel like launching his jersey onto the ice (Canadian Style!)
In reality though this game was a stark reminder of what this season is for the Kraken, and that dawning reality is a tough one for fans to swallow. What starts off as promise, becomes hope, becomes disappointment, then delusion, and when that's gone all that's left is anger.
Angry is a good summary for how the fan base feels right now, albeit I am generalising here. Twitter isn't the best barometer of peoples emotions at the best of times, but you can't deny that the feeling has changed, and the change isn't positive.
In true human fashion we need someone to blame, but who is to blame for this predicament Seattle find themselves in?
Are the team to blame? Are their performances not fitting their talent? Is Ron Francis to blame? He of course brought this group of misfits together, stunning people with some of his choices, or exclusions to be honest. Or is the real person to blame here the expansion team that went before them?
I am of course talking about a certain Vegas Golden Knights. Let's begin there...
THE VEGAS CURSE
Vegas did the impossible in their inaugural season. In fact, no other sports team in American professional sports history has ever gone to a cup final in their first season as a franchise.
Vegas' trip to the Stanley Cup Final though did something far more dangerous than buck the history books, it set a precedent.
This precedent would then befall Seattle upon their announcement, could they do it as well? Would they be as good as Vegas, the chatter started and has yet to stop. The reality is though that its highly likely no one ever repeats Vegas, and that's okay, because it's kind of what makes it so special, and why no one had done it before!
In my personal opinion the success of Vegas has led to a curse on all future expansion teams. That curse is that you believe your team will do the same, that essentially it'll 'do a Vegas' and get to a cup final. Your mind blindly ignores the hundreds of expansion teams across the many sports who have not done this, and just believes that 'you can do what Vegas did'.
The reality though is you cant. The expectation though leads to you thinking your team isn't good enough, rather than accepting that this is the start of a building process. That is the Vegas curse!
GRUBAUER'S DAY OFF
There is no doubting the team performances could be better,
Goaltending alone has been a chasm of woe as we've watched a goalie tandem who should be top ten in the league both forget which hand they catch with.
If we're going to point the performance finger anywhere it has to start in net.
Seattle Kraken have the leagues worst combined save percentage, and with Arizona in the league that takes some doing.
I know some people will say "but Ian it's the defence which are causing it", I don't disagree the defence has its part to play, but not with numbers this bad. The reality is we're not giving up lots of high danger chances, our goalies are simply not saving the medium danger ones. The two goal tenders can not blame anyone but themselves for their stats.
Defensive consistency and scoring aside, with better goaltending Seattle would be in a far better position. Its that simple.
RON'S GONE WRONG
Next up in the blame game is GM Ron Francis.
At the end of the day the players on the ice are his choices, and some of the players he elected not to choose surprised quite a few people, myself included.
I'm a big believer in hindsight being pointless, so there isn't a lot of weight saying "If Ron chose Tarasenko we'd be fine", because the reality is we don't know that. Same goes for any of the other players overlooked, looking back isn't the way to go here.
Ron's judgement for his tenure with Seattle will come, but not now. It's unfair to judge a GM this soon into a franchises history. As we've said on the podcast if in five to ten years time, Seattle have won a cup and Vegas haven't, does that mean we won the expansion sweepstakes? Would they wish they tanked in their first year? Who knows.
Ron's true test comes this offseason. His mantra from the start was 'youth first', and 'defence second'. So far the defensive bit is somewhat lacking, but there is no doubt that the Seattle team has a lot of youth, and through the draft that could be improved further.
So yes, it would be easy to sit here and say Tarasenko is currently a point per game player this season, we could have had him! Sack Ron! What is he doing! The reality though is that the true test for Ron Francis will be his ability to use the cap space he has and the upcoming draft to make this team a true contender, not a 1 season wonder.
So ultimately who is to blame?
In summary, I can totally understand why Seattle fans are beginning to lose their patience. The reality is all three of the areas detailed above are contributing factors to the reason why the Kraken's inaugural season is faltering.
Yes the team could, and arguably should, be playing better.
Yes if Ron had of chosen more 'win now' players like Tarasenko we'd have a better on ice product today.
and Yes, Vegas' success in their short existence has caused a ripple effect to Seattle. Creating an expectation monster, one that is of such a size it was never going to be satisfied.
Even though it may feel bleak right now, there are still many reasons for Seattle fans to be optimistic. Even though we are not winning games, we are in them, and I still truly believe we're not a million miles away from being a good team.
Our problem though is that Vegas Curse!
It's very real, and it has a hold of the entire Seattle Kraken community right now!! Ian L 31st December 2021