Novice to expert hockey fans will have multiple Kraken-related programs to choose from on ROOT Sports Northwest once the NHL expansion team launches its preseason in the coming weeks and its regular season next month.
Multiple sources at the Mariners-owned regional sports network (RSN) said Tuesday that a “Kraken Hockey 101 — The Basics” show will focus on the sport’s fundamentals and feature insights from players and coaches that will air throughout the season. The half-hour show is scheduled to debut ahead of the team’s Sept. 26 preseason opener in Spokane against the Vancouver Canucks.
“Given that this is a new NHL market, there will be fans and potential fans who may need some education on the game so they can better enjoy watching it,” one source said.
There also will be a game-day “Kraken Warm-Up” show done in a longer, magazine-style format, and separate from a live pregame show. An “Inside Kraken Hockey” weekly magazine show starts in October that will be similar in style to the “Mariners All-Access” program.
In addition, the RSN plans a tentatively titled “ROOT Sports Tonight” evening program for January covering all of the city’s sports teams and featuring news, highlights and interviews. It will air two or three shows per week, with other in-season Kraken content.
The programs will lean heavily on existing ROOT Sports on-air hosts Brad Adam, Jen Mueller and Angie Mentink, known primarily for their Mariners coverage but who also branch off to other sports outside baseball season. Mueller was on-site conducting studio interviews from a makeshift set at the NHL expansion draft at Gas Works Park back in July when the Kraken selected the bulk of its roster.
In addition, the RSN is also expected to use Kraken on-air talent, coaches and personnel to bolster the shows. Kraken radio play-by-play voice Everett Fitzhugh has already been involved in several videos produced by the team for its official website, and TV analyst JT Brown is the type of needed former NHL player otherwise lacking in the ROOT Sports ensemble.
Brown will work game broadcasts alongside TV play-by-play man John Forslund but could provide recorded segments ahead of time for other ROOT Sports programming. The RSN and team is still working through how the live pregame and postgame segments will work when it comes to analysis.
For the Mariners, former MLB pitcher Bill Krueger for years has worked alongside studio host Adam in a studio analyst role. The RSN and team have been talking to some former players and are considering whether to go with just one the entire season or use multiple in a rotation.
A decision is expected within the next 10 days.
There are a handful of former NHL players residing in the area.
Two ex-Seattle Thunderbirds and retired NHL veterans living locally include Jamie Huscroft, who played for New Jersey, Boston, Calgary, Tampa Bay, Washington, Vancouver and Phoenix and now is director of operations for Eastside-based Sno-King Ice Sports. Also, Turner Stevenson, who played for Montreal, New Jersey and Philadelphia, has been coaching with elite youth hockey teams locally for years.
Former Washington Capitals goalie Olaf Kolzig lives farther away in Kennewick, where he’s a co-owner of his former Tri-City Americans junior team.