Grubauer, Kraken have sights on Stanley Cup in inaugural season

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CHICAGO — Philipp Grubauer said the Seattle Kraken are shooting for the Stanley Cup in their inaugural season.

“We are not there to go through the motions and just play,” the goalie said at the NHL/NHLPA Player Media Tour on Friday. “Like, we are there to win a Cup. We’re there to bring one back to the city. What better way would it be? It would be incredible to do it the first year.”

Seattle became the first city in the United States to win the Stanley Cup when the Seattle Metropolitans of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association defeated the Montreal Canadiens of the National Hockey Association in 1917, months before the NHL was founded.

Are the Kraken really setting their goals that high as an expansion team?

“Oh, yeah,” Grubauer said. “We’re not there to just, like … ‘OK, our goal is, like, to make the playoffs.’ We’re there to win the Cup.

“I think we have it all in us. Every team can beat any team on any given night. It’s just a matter of bringing it to the table every shift, every game, over 82 games plus the playoffs. So if you have a group of guys who are committed to that, you can accomplish something great.”

The Vegas Golden Knights won the Pacific Division, finished fifth in the NHL standings and went to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season of 2017-18. They lost in the Cup Final in five games to the Washington Capitals, for whom Grubauer was the backup goalie.

Grubauer cited the Golden Knights and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury in particular as reasons why he left the Colorado Avalanche for the Kraken as an unrestricted free agent, signing a six-year, $35.4 million contract (average annual value $5.9 million) July 28.

That said, this is a different team, a different time and a different circumstance. Grubauer said the Kraken need to be allowed to stand on their own.

“Every team has their own journey, right?” Grubauer said. “I think Vegas was a … not one in a million, but like, a lot of factors have to play together in order to go to a Stanley Cup Final in your first year, right? They’ve done a phenomenal job, but there’s other teams too that haven’t been so successful in their first year.”

What is the difference between goals and expectations? What is fair to expect of the Kraken in their first season?

“I don’t think we know until we actually play,” Grubauer said. “On paper, everything looks great. There are teams out there who look incredible, haven’t won anything. There are teams who look maybe not so good on paper, but they’ve won a lot of Cups. I don’t think we know until we actually play, where we stand. I think the first two, three exhibition games are going to give us a good glimpse.”

Grubauer and most of his teammates have begun skating informally at the Kraken Community Iceplex, a new three-sheet facility in Seattle.

The Kraken take the ice for their first practice of training camp Thursday. They play their first preseason game against the Vancouver Canucks at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena on Sept. 26.

Their first regular-season game is at Vegas on Oct. 12, and their home opener is against Vancouver at Climate Pledge Arena, a new arena under the iconic roof of the former KeyArena next to the Space Needle, on Oct. 23.

“I’m just curious to see what system we’re going to play, curious to see [Climate Pledge Arena],” Grubauer said. “I’ve heard nothing but amazing things. I’m curious to see what it’s like to step out there on the ice for the first game with the fans. … I want to see that rink loud. I’m looking forward to that.”

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