In the first full week of October, a wardrobe change hinted at what has become the centre’s surprising and welcome development. Yanni Gourde debuts at the Kraken Tuesday in Newark.
Goalkeeper Joey Okay will make his own uniform change on Tuesday. After an impressive victory in his first appearance for Charlotte Checkers, the Kraken’s American Hockey League affiliate, Daccord is replacing for Chris Driedger, who was placed on the reserve injured list by Seattle.
In a further move to make room for Gourde on the list, forward Kole Lind, who made his Kraken debut on Monday in Philadelphia, was assigned to Charlotte and didn’t need to clear the waivers.
When Kraken assistant captain Gourde hopped on the ice for a training camp session on October 4, he was not wearing his usual non-contact red jersey. Gourde circled the Starbucks Rink at the Kraken Training Center in a powder blue jersey, which he then gleefully asked the media to describe as “half-contact.”
At the end of the week, Gourde wore the usual blue or white training jersey, mixing him up with his teammates in puck battles in the corners and watching, well, fly, in every definition.
After the “powder blue” practice, Gourde was asked about any updated schedule for his return to competitive ice: “Honestly, I don’t know. We were going to have to talk to the doctor again in a few weeks and see where we’re at, but so far I’m feeling pretty good. “
On Tuesday afternoon, a few weeks later, Seattle announced that Gourde was dropping off the injured reserve list and preparing for Game 5 of the inaugural season. He’s likely to play between frontline forwards Jared Schwartz and Jordan eberle, with whom he took turns regularly during drills during the last days of training camp.
Gourde made it a habit to arrive early for every training camp morning, regardless of what time his split squad group was scheduled for ice training. He wanted to feel like a member of the team, getting to know his new teammates over breakfasts and banter in the locker room to grab what has become an opportunity to be a veteran leader on an NHL team.
One thing that’s hard to overlook: every time Gourde speaks with the media, he smiles. It all started with a summer Zoom call with local and national hockey reporters explaining how he said he felt selected from what he saw as a formidable pool of available forwards in Tampa Bay. That same smile will undoubtedly appear on a regular basis when speaking to the media in the days to come.
Gourde is clearly happy to be part of the Kraken and a leadership group that includes the Captain Marc Giordano and other alternate captains Adam larsson plus waiting teammates Eberle and Schwartz.
“I looked at Yanni [Gourde] work every day, and his diligence is second to none, ”Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said at a later phase of training camp. “He continues to move forward day after day. He is doing everything he can to improve himself that day.
“We know what he is as a player and what he brings in terms of skills and abilities. You see every day what he brings in terms of energy… he is just one of those guys.”
When the Kraken selected Gourde from Tampa Bay in the NHL expansion draft on July 23, the two-time Stanley Cup winner was pulled from two days of shoulder surgery to repair an injury he worked his way through while playing a key role in the back-to-back Lightning Championship Seasons.
Gourde said taking and winning faceoffs – a key part of his central position and currently in short supply among Kraken forwards – bothered him quite a bit during the 2021 playoffs, in which he scored the game-winning goal in shorthanded in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, fueling a 1-0 victory that helped Tampa Bay advance to the Stanley Cup Final.
It was the first time in NHL history that a No.7 playoff game ended 1-0, with the only goal being a man down or what fans and players like to call a “Shorty”.
A month later, Gourde had celebrated another Cup victory with his TBL teammates on boats, had surgery and received a call from Kraken CEO Ron Francis he was highly coveted by the expansion team. . Fast forward nearly three more months: Gourde comes to the rescue in New Jersey.
Daccord deserves his own star after a stellar training camp with third-period preseason appearances that have teammates and fans buzzing raving about. A knowledgeable NHL broadcast analyst called Daccord the “best player on the ice” during a road game.
Playing for Charlotte, Daccord stopped 26 of 27 shots on Sunday to lead the AHL affiliate to its first win of the season against home side Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins, 4-1. Daccord played in nine NHL games during his seasons with the Ottawa Senators organization.