The Kraken did not win their season opener in Vegas. They did, however, make it a close game. Take all the moral victories you’d like from that one, Vegas is a really really good hockey team—being tied in the third period with them in your first ever game is great news going forward.
The reason they were tied in the third period comes down to a beautiful snipe form forward Morgan Geekie about halfway into the period. After looking off Vegas defenseman Zach Whitecloud, Geekie fired a wrister that goaltender Robin Lehner never really stood a chance of stopping.
And then, per some reports, his celebration got a little offensive to the players on the Vegas bench.
DeBoer on Kraken's celebration after Geekie's tying goal: "I didn’t see the celebration but I know our players took offense to it and decided they were going to do something about it the next shift and went out and scored the goal. Good learning lesson for some guys."— David Schoen (@DavidSchoenLVRJ) October 13, 2021
I didn’t see the celly either Pete, so let’s get to the bottom of this.
Let’s start small. Here’s the game-tying goal, in real time.
Unfortunately Geekie disappears off the right side of the screen immediately after the goal, so we don’t get any initial view of a celly. Let’s check in on what Mark Stone had to say about it to get a better idea of what we’re looking for here.
Mark Stone said his line was fired up after seeing Morgan Geekie’s stick twirl and stare at the bench on the game-tying goal. “Don’t get us fired up I guess”— Justin Emerson (@J15Emerson) October 13, 2021
A stick twirl and a stare down, perfect. We have our first lead. We can actually see a potential stare down in the first video, after Geekie comes around to the far corner. Take another look:
He’s certainly looking in the direction of the Vegas bench (after finding his linemate Ryan Donato, of course). But further research seems to indicate he was actually looking for his boy Brandon Tanev so they could share the greatest hockey tradition of all, your classic hockey hug.
No stare-down just yet, but we’ve still got some celebrating to do here. Moving on to the skate by the benches, and we might actually have some evidence of a stare down here.
Through my deep sea blue colored glasses it doesn’t look like a malicious stare-down at the Vegas bench, but I have to admit that Geekie does look in their direction here. It’s subtle, but definitely a move that might get under the skin of his opponents.
Moving on to the other portion of the celly that the Knights’ first line took offense to: the stick twirl.
As mentioned above, Geekie disappears to the right of the camera for a few seconds before finding his teammates for a group hug. He’s in a blind spot and we’re left in the dark. However, further research has revealed another view. From this angle, we can catch a glimpse of the beginning of the stick twirl.
Did you catch it? Just before the cut to Geekie on the bench, we can spot him spinning his stick around in his hands once he sees the puck go in the net. That’s a full set of data points we’ve got now, time to put it all together.
Conclusion the first
Everything the Knights said is, on some level, true and accurate. He did twirl the stick, and he did look at the Vegas bench as he skated by. It is debatable whether or not the amount of time that passed during said skate was long enough to constitute a “stare” rather than simply a “glance,” but that’s in the eye of the beholder I suppose.
Conclusion the second
As far as goal celebrations go, the stick twirl is about as tame as you can get in hockey. He doesn’t even raise his hands in the air, he keeps both hands on the stick, there’s no jumping. It’s just a little stick spin. But hey, athletes have to take whatever fuel they can get to get that next goal, and credit where credit is due: Chandler Stephenson really kicked it into gear on their next shift and Vegas came away with the victory.
The Kraken and the Knights will always be weirdly joined together as the latest two expansion franchises, despite being separated by four years. The comparisons to Vegas’ astounding success at their onset will likely hang over Seattle’s head all season long, which is why this author has long been a proponent of the idea that the rivalry with Vegas will be greater than the rivalry with Vancouver. It always felt a bit one-sided though, as Vegas doesn’t really have anything to prove to Seattle. They made the Stanley Cup final in year one for crying out loud. But if this Kraken team can get under their skin with a little stick twirl, then perhaps these two teams can learn to dislike each other even sooner than expected. Here’s to hoping we get another Morgan Geekie goal (and more importantly, a Morgan Geekie celly) when these teams meet again in November.