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NHL 2021-22 Season Look: Vancouver Canucks vs. Seattle Kraken Rivalry

Now that the Canucks finally have a team in close proximity, what will their rivalry look like with the Kraken?

The Vancouver Canucks don’t have a sworn rival. Sure, Canucks fans generally don’t like the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Chicago Blackhawks, or Boston Bruins, but all of those teams have bigger rivals to worry about. They don’t hate the Canucks nearly as much as the Canucks hate them.

That’s where the Seattle Kraken come in. The two cities are about 230km apart: About a 2.5-hour drive, according to Google Maps. Seattle will be the only NHL city within 900km of Vancouver.

The Canucks are perennially among the most-travelled teams in the NHL. With travel comes exhaustion, and with exhaustion comes injury. Having the Kraken nearby will, to some degree, soften the wear and tear that travel can have on a team.

Related: Will Tarasenko be Traded Before July 17 Expansion Draft Lists are Due?

Recent NHL Expansion

We all know the remarkable story of the Vegas Golden Knights’ inaugural season in 2017, where they lost in the Stanley Cup Final. Although we can’t expect the Kraken to do the same, we can assume they will be competitive right from the get-go. Historically, NHL expansion teams have been among the worst in the league for their first few seasons, but this time around, the League tried to generate excitement around teams in new markets.

The biggest difference this time is the number of players available to the expansion teams. When the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild came into the league in 2000, teams were allowed to protect 9 Forwards, 5 Defensemen, and 1 Goalie or 7 Forwards, 3 Defensemen, and 2 Goalies. Because teams were able to protect everyone but their fourth line, sixth and seventh Defensemen, and their Back-up Goalies, the teams didn’t turn out so well.

Canucks vs. Kraken Rivalry

Some of the most anticipated games each year are the “Battle of Alberta” games, with the Flames facing off against the Oilers. If the Canucks and Kraken are both contenders at the same time, we might see a similar rivalry. This would increase ticket sales for both teams, and perhaps provide recognition around the league for players like Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat, who sometimes fly under the radar.

Vancouver Canucks Seattle Kraken NHL
Vancouver Canucks Seattle Kraken NHL

The Kraken just announced their pre-season schedule for 2021-22, which will see them visit Vancouver on September 26th for their first-ever game as a franchise. (Fun fact: The Golden Knights also played their first-ever pre-season game against the Canucks back in 2017.) We can expect Rogers Arena to be as sold-out as the government of British Columbia allows it to be, with Canucks fans wanting to get the first glimpse of their new rivals- especially since the Canucks weren’t allowed to have fans in the building at any point during last season.

British Columbians who follow the NFL are commonly fans of the Seattle Seahawks, as it’s considered the Home Team. When they get the chance, they love to drive across the border and see a game at Lumen Field. We can assume that fans will do the same when the Kraken play, especially if tickets are cheap.

We won’t get a good feel for the Kraken until the Expansion Draft, which takes place on July 21st, less than two weeks from now. The Kraken will also pick second overall in this year’s Entry Draft, which begins just two days after the Expansion Draft, on the 23rd.

Next: Canucks and Coyotes Linked in Likely Schmidt, Ekman-Larsson Trades

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