Category 5: Hurricanes ready to face familiar Kraken for 1st time

Ethan Bear is still in San Jose, Seth Jarvis is staying and there are lots of former Hurricanes with the Kraken

Hurricanes defenseman Ethan Bear is quarantining in a San Jose hotel after testing positive for COVID-19. (Karl B. DeBlaker / AP Photo)

The Hurricanes will play for the first time in Seattle when they face the Kraken on Wednesday in the new Climate Pledge Arena. Coming off a loss, Carolina is still the top team in the NHL at 14-2-1, including an 8-1-1 record on the road.

1. Lurking in the background of Carolina’s 2-1 overtime loss to San Jose on Monday were thoughts of the player the Hurricanes were leaving behind.

Defenseman Ethan Bear tested positive for COVID-19, the team revealed before the game, and will have to quarantine in his hotel until he exits the league’s protocol.

That means Bear will miss Wednesday’s game in Seattle, where he played four seasons and a total of 314 games for the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds. The good news is coach Rod Brind’Amour said Bear was feeling better Tuesday.

“It’s unfortunate he’s stuck in a hotel,” Brind’Amour said. “He’s feeling better so that’s good. I guess the protocol is if he feels better he might be able to test out of it. But either way, it’s not good for him. He’s stuck there. Again, every team seems to be dealing with it, so hopefully that’s the only one. We’ll see.”

It’s the second time in three years the team had to leave San Jose without one of their traveling party. Current play-by-play announcer Mike Maniscalco, then the Hurricanes’ rinkside reporter,  was hospitalized during the team’s trip to play the Sharks in October 2019. He returned to Raleigh and had a volleyball-sized tumor removed from his abdomen. The growth was thankfully benign, and Maniscalco has made a full recovery.

Bear, who like all the Hurricanes is fully vaccinated, is improving and should get back to the team in the coming weeks. For now, however, he waits alone in a hotel.

2. Speaking of hotels, that’s where Seth Jarvis has been living while awaiting the decision on whether or not he would be returning to Portland of the Western Hockey League. With Monday being Jarvis’ 10th game played in the NHL, the first year of his entry-level contract is burned, meaning he will be due a new contract before the 2024-25 season. If he plays in 40 games, this season would count a year toward his eligibility for unrestricted free agency.

Jarvis can stop worrying about being left in the Pacific Northwest and focus on finding a new place to live in Raleigh.

“Before I was living kind of week to week, not knowing what’s gonna happen,” Jarvis said of the uncertainty about whether he’d return to junior. “Now I have a little bit clearer of a view of what’s going on. As far as living arrangements. I don’t know yet. Right now. I’ve been living in a hotel for the past couple months or whatever. So it’s getting a little old there. But I don’t know what I’ll have to do, but I’m sure I’ll find out soon.”

3. The Hurricanes’ first game in Seattle also marks the first time the team will face former draft picks Morgan Geekie and Haydn Fleury.

Geekie, a third-round pick by Carolina in 2017, was the Kraken’s pick from the Hurricanes in the expansion draft. He has two goals and two assists in 18 games with Seattle this season.

“I was happy for Geeks, for sure. … I think it was all just about opportunity. It’s great to see that he’s getting that.” Brind’Amour said of Geekie being taken by Seattle. “So you’re happy for players like that who come along. Whether I helped them or not, or we did it, we certainly helped him get this opportunity. So that’s great.”

Fleury, the seventh overall pick by the Hurricanes in 2014, was dealt to Anaheim before last season’s trade deadline in a move that brought Jani Hakanpaa to Raleigh. The Kraken then made Fleury their pick from the Ducks roster in the expansion draft. His younger brother, Cale, was also chosen from Montreal.

The elder Fleury has two goals — both in Seattle’s Oct. 28 win over Minnesota — in nine games but has been scratched the past two games.

Both Fleury and Geekie played with Steven Lorentz and Martin Necas on the Charlotte Checkers’ 2019 Calder Cup-winning team as Hurricanes prospects.

“It’s going to be weird,” Lorentz said of playing his former teammates. “It’s only really ever happened (tom me) in junior hockey, and it’s a little bit different. … You get familiar with these guys at training camps and development camps and stuff.

“So I’ve known those guys probably five or six years, and it’s going to be weird seeing them in a different color jersey. But they’ve moved on and they’ve had new opportunities elsewhere. So that’s the competition tomorrow, and minus a few text messages and exchanges like that, it’s gonna be all business come game time. So I’m looking forward to playing against them.”

Bonus fact from Lorentz? He thinks Geekie, his roommate last season, has potential in another form of entertainment.

“I think (something) that a lot of people don’t know about him is he’s a heckuva guitar player,” Lorentz said. “I think if he went on like ‘America’s Got Talent’ or something like that, he’d definitely advance to the next round. He’d get some votes. … He’s pretty special. He’s got a good ability. I know I miss having him around.”

4. The other big connection to the Hurricanes is Kraken GM Ron Francis, whose No. 10 hangs in the rafters of PNC Arena. Outside of Brind’Amour, Francis is the most significant figure in Hurricanes history, bringing legitimacy to hockey in North Carolina by signing as a free agent with the Hurricanes in 1998 and captaining the team to the Stanley Cup Final in 2002.

He then roamed his way through the organization, working in the front office and on the bench before replacing Jim Rutherford as general manager in 2014.

Under his watch, the Hurricanes drafted Sebastian Aho, Necas and Lorentz, traded for Teuvo Teravainen, and signed Brett Pesce and Jaccob Slavin to team-friendly contracts that helped make Carolina’s defense one of the best in hockey.

“There’s a lot of players that he had a lot to do with that are here (with Carolina), for sure,” Brind’Amour said of Francis.

Francis was ushered out of the organization shortly after Tom Dundon bought the team in early 2018, and new GM Don Waddell led an overhaul that has seen several of Francis’ high draft picks — including Jake Bean, Julien Gauthier, Noah Hanifin, Alex Nedeljkovic, Janne Kuokkanen, Eetu Luostarinen and Fleury — and core players like Jeff Skinner and Elias Lindholm traded.

The moves — along with the promotion of Brind’Amour to head coach — have Carolina poised for a fourth straight trip to the postseason. The Francis-led Hurricanes never reached the playoffs.

Now charged with leading the Kraken, Francis has been praised for his diverse front office but criticized for his conservative approach to the expansion draft. Seattle enters Wednesday’s game 5-12-1, last in the Pacific Division.

Brind’Amour seemed confident Francis can build a winner in Seattle.

“I think he’s going to do a great job here,” he said. “I think he put together a really good team. … I think he’s going to do it the right way, and I think that’s what they want here. And I’m sure they’ll get the results.”

5. After registering a goal and an assist in last Tuesday’s win in Vegas, Vincent Trocheck has been held without a point in his last three games and registered just two shots on goal.

Trocheck is still tied for fourth on the team in scoring with 13 points and ranks third among Carolina forwards in ice time at 17:39. He is also second in hits with 37, trailing only captain Jordan Staal (42).

Trocheck is also tied with Andrei Svechnikov for the team lead in missed shots with 21 — still half as many as league leader Auston Matthews, who has 42 with Toronto this season.

Seattle captain Mark Giordano is tied for ninth with 27 missed shots — the second most of any defenseman. By contrast, Tony DeAngelo has 39 shots on goal this season — tied for 25th among league defensemen — but has missed the net just 10 times.