As the puck dropped between the Washington Capitals and Seattle Kraken for their first-ever meeting, Seattle took the time to pay tribute to one of their legends.
The Kraken posted a tribute to the Czech netminder, who spent seven memorable days with Seattle in the summer.
“Welcome back to a true Kraken legend,” the team’s Twitter account wrote.
welcome back to a true kraken legend. pic.twitter.com/EsGC5mudGX
— Seattle Kraken (@SeattleKraken) November 22, 2021
Seattle selected Vanecek from Washington in the 2021 expansion draft. He was expected to join forces with Chris Driedger as their goaltending tandem in their inaugural season. However, when 2021 Vezina finalist and former Capitals netminder Philipp Grubauer became available in free agency, Seattle went to ink him and subsequently sent Vanecek back to D.C. for a 2023 second-rounder.
“I was thinking about it, you’ve been here for a long time, six years and working hard… I was thinking like it’s something new, new people, you know, and a new start,” Vanecek said of his selection.
After the Grubauer signing, the 25-year-old had a hunch there would be a trade. Four teams reportedly had interest in Vanecek.
“I asked my agent what we do, and he told me, ‘Maybe you will be traded.’ I said ‘Okay,’ and then he told me just wait like we can do anything. So I was just waiting,” Vanecek added.
Vanecek never made it to Seattle and had to stop work on a Kraken-themed mask. He almost sent his car down to the Pacific Northwest as well. Vanecek also said he never got a jersey or swag from his week-long club.
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The deal has appeared to work in Washington’s favor. Vanecek is 4-2-4 through 11 games this season, boasting a .911 save percentage and 2.39 GAA. The Capitals currently rank second in the Metropolitan Division and third in the league with 28 points.
Grubauer, meanwhile, is 4-8-1 with a .875 save percentage and 3.27 GAA through 14 games. Seattle is last place in the Pacific with nine points.
Both Vanecek and Grubauer are playing their former clubs on Sunday. The Capitals are currently up 1-0 thanks to a Tom Wilson goal. Former Kraken defenseman Dennis Cholowski is also in the lineup for his revenge game with Conor Sheary being a late scratch due to injury.