Colin Blackwell was somewhat of a breakout player in the NHL last season with the New York Rangers, finally getting playing time he had sought his entire career.
Seattle was supposed to be the next step, when he ascended into an established, every-day cog in the lineup. The center’s offensive ability and two-way play made him a prime candidate to snag a prominent role with the Kraken.
But before training camp opened in September Blackwell suffered a lower-body injury, and he hasn’t skated with the team.
He skated before practice Thursday and Friday, but he has shared little about what has sidelined him.
“It felt good the last couple of days to get back on the ice,” Blackwell said Friday during his first media session with reporters since arriving in Seattle. “It’s kind of a feeling-things-out kind of thing, just some nagging stuff that has been bothering me since I got here, for a little while now since over the summer. Just trying to get that right so I’m 100 percent ready and can hit the ground running when I do it.”
Coach Dave Hakstol said at the start of camp that Blackwell’s status was day to day. But he didn’t play in any preseason games and began the season on injured reserve.
Blackwell said Friday that he hopes to avoid surgery.
“I hope that’s not in the cards,” he said. “Hopefully just a little bit of time, and hopefully everything will turn the corner; that’s what I’m hoping for, and then just go from there.”
When Blackwell has been on the ice, he has skated away from other players, primarily taking slow twirls around one-third of the ice and putting pucks in an empty net.
He’s still a ways from getting into sessions with the rest of the group, but it’s the first positive sign.
“I want to get back out there and try to do (everything) I can; a lot of guys get injured every year, and it’s frustrating. Just kind of hanging with the guys when trying to get chemistry that way,” he said. “They’re doing a good job getting that together with everybody, just trying to get to know each other. That’s been pretty beneficial, and when I get out there I think it’s gonna be pretty easy (with chemistry).”
Systems still firing
The Kraken has played five games, and it has been evident it is a work in progress.
Before the season, Hakstol said it can take into the early season for the team’s systems to come together and players click. How long that takes with a new team is unclear.
“(It takes) five games,” forward Jared McCann joked Friday. “We should have a good understanding, kind of what they want us to do. We’ve had to tweak a few things, so we’re still trying to adjust, but I feel like each game we’re gonna take it, and I know it sounds weird, but it really is one game at a time right now.”
- After skating in the red noncontact jersey Thursday, center Morgan Geekie was back as a full participant Friday, taking part in drills in a regular sweater. He skated on a line in practice between Brandon Tanev and Joonas Donskoi.
- Alex Barre-Boulet, who was waived Thursday, didn’t go without a team for long. He was reclaimed by the Tampa Bay Lightning, which had waived him in the first week of the season. He finished his Kraken stint with an assist in two games.
- Saturday’s home opener will be available on ESPN+, CBUT and Hulu.