NHL Drops Ball As No Kraken are Named to All-Star Game

NHL Drops Ball As No Kraken are Named to All-Star Game

After much speculation about Matty Beniers’ availability for the 2023 NHL All-Star Game, it was confirmed on Jan. 30 that he would not be attending. His status was already clouded after missing the last two games before the All-Star break with an upper-body injury he suffered Jan. 25 against the Vancouver Canucks. The injury came on a dangerous play by Canucks defenseman Tyler Myers that knocked Beniers onto the ice.

Now, Kraken fans are confused because Beniers’ replacement on the Pacific Division all-star roster isn’t Kraken at all. Vegas Golden Knights forward Chandler Stephenson was named in place of Beniers, leaving the Kraken without a representative at this year’s festivities.

Several Kraken players deserved recognition

There’s a legitimate case to be made for at least four players deserving of All-Star appearances this season. Not only is this an incredible personal achievement, but it’s also a statement of the quality of the Kraken this season.

Jared McCann, Seattle Kraken (Amy Irvin/The Hockey Writers)

It was reported that the NHL approached an anonymous player to replace Beniers during the game, but was later turned down. That being said, the NHL should have pitched the idea to a number of players. Although he is not named, we can assume that the player is one of the team’s top scorers. This list would include Andre Burakovsky, Jordan Eberle, Jared McCann and Vince Dunn.

Although there is no guarantee that any of these players would agree to participate, the question should have been asked. All of these players are having phenomenal seasons in an incredibly successful first half for the team. Asking a player and then moving on to another opponent in the division feels like a half measure and somewhat disrespectful of what the other players have done.

NHL hypocrisy

In the past, the NHL has made it clear that it wants to feature every team on All-Star Weekend. This has been proven time and time again in their selection process, as each team will always have a named representative on the initial rosters.

Related: Kraken Monthly: Beniers, Canucks, Hall & More

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In addition, injury substitutes are regularly named from the same list. For example, the initial NHL Atlantic Division All-Star roster in 2022 included just one player from the Ottawa Senators. Drake Batherson, who was the initial selection, withdrew from the festivities due to injury. His replacement ? His teammate, Brady Tkachuk.

This decision allowed each team to remain represented and proved that the NHL preferred to keep it that way. This seemed to be the case until last week. Asking just one player to act as a substitute feels like a lack of effort on the part of the league, and somewhat hypocritical to make it a point in previous seasons and not this one.

Missing an opportunity to market the success of a new team

The league likes to promote success stories, and perhaps one of the most notable of this season is the Kraken’s success in its second year. They had the odds on their side in their freshman year, and expectations were too high given the success of the Vegas Golden Knights in their inaugural season.

Making that effort in 2022-23 did well to cement them as a legitimate team in the Western Conference and ultimately put those expectations aside. It would have been wise to ensure the presence of a Kraken player because the team is really easy to talk to.

Andre Burakovsky, Seattle Kraken (Photo by Christopher Mast/NHI via Getty Images)

It’s also good to recognize when players help a team reach new heights. There are a number of scenarios you can tackle that shed light on the team’s success.

For example, an addition of Burakovsky to the Pacific team would be a great story. He would play his first All-Star Game in his first year with the Kraken. There was a lot of talk about their scoring issues last season, and his addition was designed to fix that. He’s now the team’s top scorer this season and presents one of the strongest cases to make the all-star game. That would be a great angle to approach this, but it’s apparently a story we’ll have to wait.

If the NHL asked for several Kraken players and none of them accepted the invitation, it would be less problematic. That being said, the league’s lack of effort to ensure the Kraken have a chance to skate in the spotlight is heartbreaking. Who knows, there might still be a chance for an appearance, but that chance seems slim with only days until the game.

Brian Finlayson has been a lifelong hockey fan and has spent the past few years writing for hockey-focused websites and blogs. Now Brian joins THW as a contributor for the Winnipeg Jets and Seattle Kraken and is very happy to cover both teams.

Brian spends most of his time as a student, pursuing a degree in communications and media at Canadian Mennonite University. He hopes to combine his loves of sports and storytelling to find a career in sports media.

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