This morning, the Seattle Kraken announced seven new additions to their hockey operations department.
Headlining the hires is former NHL player Gary Roberts, who played 21 seasons in the NHL and won the Stanley Cup in 1989. Roberts and Kraken GM Ron Francis were teammates for two seasons with the Hurricanes and one season with the Toronto Maple Leafs. During his playing career, Roberts played a strong, hard-nosed style of hockey, a fact that was echoed in humorous fashion when Roberts had to serve a “too many men” penalty in 2007 and the broadcast graphic showed the infraction as “too much man.”
After his pro career, Roberts transitioned to the training side of hockey, founding his own company, Gary Roberts High Performance Training. GRHPT’s mission statement is “To help athletes achieve high performance and longevity in sport and life through an integrated program of advanced training techniques, holistic nutrition and recovery strategies.” Their website includes testimonials from some of the NHL’s best players, such as Connor McDavid, Mark Scheifele, and James Neal.
Roberts will be joining the Kraken as a “sports science and performance consultant.” It appears that even with this new role, Roberts will continue his work with GRHPT. According to the Athletic’s Ryan S. Clark, Roberts’ agreement with the Kraken “will allow him to still do offseason training work with players around the league at his Toronto facility.”
This won’t be the first time Roberts has worked with an NHL expansion team. He worked in a limited capacity with the Vegas Golden Knights until this summer, which is an encouraging sign given the success Vegas has had. Bringing in a trainer as experienced and respected as Roberts will greatly benefit the Kraken’s future players.
The Kraken also expanded their already robust analytics department, hiring John Mavroudis and Eric Mathiasen. Both Mavroudis and Mathiasen have impressive credentials in the tech world.
Before joining the Kraken, Mavroudis worked at Hellosign, a Dropbox company, as technical program manager, data engineering. As a Hockey Operations Data Engineer with the Kraken, he will collect raw hockey data, sort it, label it, and organize it for the team’s hockey operations department to use.
Mathiasen most recently worked as a senior technical designer at Microsoft. His new role of Hockey Operations Developer will focus on building and maintaining a team analytics platform. On the Kraken website, Mathiasen described the project. “We are building a platform that will allow us to visualize our team’s in-depth analytical data, scouting reports and player statistics. The goal is to create a ‘one-stop shop’ for our staff and coaches that puts all of the data needed to supplement decisions around drafting, trades, strategy and scouting at their fingertips.”
One can imagine all the applications such a comprehensive tool could have. It’s clear that the Kraken are not focused solely on the data collection and manipulation itself, but also on making sure that analytics insights are easily available and accessible to all necessary members of the team. Kraken fans should be excited for their team’s growing analytics group that’s already among the most ambitious and innovative in professional sports.
Keeping players in top physical shape is essential for any professional hockey team. To that end, the Kraken hired Mike Booi as Head Athletic Trainer and Nate Brookreson as Head Strength and Conditioning Coach. Booi has worked as an athletic trainer in the NHL, AHL, and ECHL. At the NHL level, he was an assistant trainer for the Arizona Coyotes and later the Washington Capitals, including their 2018 Stanley Cup run. With the Kraken, Booi will get his first opportunity to be a head athletic trainer on hockey’s biggest stage.
Brookreson, originally from Lacey, Washington, played college football at Central Washington University. When examining his experience, it might be easier to list the sports Brookreson has not been involved with. He has done strength and conditioning work in a variety of sports including baseball, swimming, tennis, soccer, and track & field. While Brookreson has over a decade of strength and conditioning coaching experience, this will be his first role with a hockey team. I’m sure he’ll be able to seamlessly add another sport to his impressive resumé.
Like Mike Booi, Tim Ohashi was also a member of the Stanley Cup winning 2018 Washington Capitals. As a video analyst, Ohashi worked closely with players, coaches, and scouts to help improve player skills and scout opponents. He will join the Kraken as Head Video Analyst.
It seemed fitting to save the equipment manager hire for last. Often flying under most fans’ radar, equipment managers have perhaps the most vital yet thankless job in an NHL organization. Their days start at the crack of dawn and end long after the players have gone home and the fans have gone to bed. Equipment managers do the meticulous work of ensuring that every last stick, pad, helmet, hockey bag, and roll of tape is perfect game-in and game-out. It takes years of work to reach the top and the Kraken’s new Head Equipment Manager Jeff Camelio is an example of just how much it takes. He spent 15 seasons and 1,700 NHL games as an assistant equipment manager for the Nashville Predators. After all that time, he’s finally getting a shot at the top job in Seattle.
Kraken fans should be encouraged by this round of hires. In every department, the Kraken have continued to excel on the hiring front. It’s exciting to see the team continue to build the organization the right way.