Happy Camper: Tanev Returns | NHL.com

Early Thursday morning, before 7 am, fan-favorite Brandon Tanev pulled into the player’s parking lot at Kraken Community Iceplex ahead of most teammates for the first day of ‘Kraken Training Camp Presented by Starbucks’. It’s been a long wait for the veteran forward, who injured his right knee during a mid-December home game that ended his to-date significant contributions to the inaugural season.

“The first part of recovery was really tough,” said Tanev, a couple of 7 am’s earlier this week during an exclusive interview Tuesday. “As an athlete, you’re so used to doing everything you want. Then you are suddenly subjected to learning how to walk again, learning how to raise your leg.”

Tanev’s mom, Sophie, was a lifesaver during the first two weeks after the successful Dec. 30 surgeries. She helped her younger son, one of two NHLers she raised, with physical needs and added the emotional support that fuels an animated human such as Tanev.

“My mom flew in for two weeks, which was nice of her,” said Tanev, who was chirping assistant coach Jay Leach about his athletic prowess right before sitting down for our conversation. “If I didn’t have her, it would have been difficult to get things done, I needed help around the house. She took some time away from her schedule to make it out to Seattle to help me, which was incredible.”

There were nevertheless tough days for Tanev, knowing he was trending towards career highs in goals and assists, along with playing an elevated role for an expansion team. His ability to agitate opponents and rev up the home crowd (there are lots of No. 13 jerseys every night at Climate Pledge Arena) was equally in prime form.

“It was definitely a little bit of adversity,” said Tanev, upbeat and champing at the bit to start camp, which he did Thursday with Team Blue, complete with a practice and scrimmage live-streamed here at www.nhl.com/Kraken and available here. “Worse things could have happened. I think once you put that in the back of your mind and get that to rest, I think it’s just all work [at first in the gym and, by summer, on the ice with other NHL players who train with Kraken sports performance consultant Gary Roberts]. You get yourself back to where you were playing before. It was a grind, it wasn’t easy. But I appreciate the process you went through. I’m starting to feel really good.”

Part of feeling good and getting to great is getting back with the guys in the Kraken locker room. Tanev’s vocal presence with teammates old and new has been clear during informal veteran skates and throughout the player’s training center quarters from workout room to break room to locker room. He was a prominent fan meeter-and-greeter among the 22 Kraken players who attended last Saturday’s Michigan State-Washington NCAA football game that vaulted the Huskies to national ranking.

When asked Wednesday if he had identified the most boisterous of teammates, newcomer forward and scorer Oliver Bjorkstrand asked for more days to answer the question but said he’s heard from any number of NHLers around the league that Tanev is, to say the least, a talker.

While specific player roles will be discussed with the Kraken coaching staff in the days ahead, Tanev was happy to talk about how he can add value to a squad looking to be highly competitive from the jump.

“I think, for me, my role remains the same”, said Tanev, making it clear he was not speaking for Dave Hakstol and his assistant coaches, Dave Lowry, Paul McFarland, and Jay Leach. “Obviously, I’m somebody who likes to be involved physically. I like to bring energy to the game, but at the same time, just continue to be a two-way player.”

“I’ve been the same way my whole career. I’m fortunate enough to have great coaches and teams that put me in good situations. At the same time, being a part of good teams is having good teammates and everyone understanding who they are … it’s a big part of being an NHL player to have that consistency and not necessarily step outside the lines of what you bring every night to meet the team’s needs.”

“For me, that is being loud, being energetic, being physical plus being a good two-way forward who contributes offensively.”

After Thursday’s practices and scrimmage, Tanev confirmed he can approach the preseason and regular season “with no restrictions.”

“I’m ready to go and excited to be out there and be around these guys,” said Tanev to reporters in the locker room after Day 1 of camp.

Hakstol said he was impressed with Tanev’s first official return day, both on skates and team gatherings, such as breakfast, lunch, meetings and more.

“It was great having him on the ice today, that’s number one. I liked the way he dove back in. He was playing through traffic. It’s a good first step for him. As you guys know, he brings a little bit of energy everywhere he goes [smiles all around, coach and media]. It’s nice to have that back in the room.”

Tanev brought up new scoring forwards such as Andrei Burakovsky and Oliver Bjorkstrand without prompting when asked what gets him excited about the start of training camp (Thursday), preseason games (Monday at Climate Pledge Arena), and the regular season (Oct. 12 at Anaheim, followed by another road game at Los Angeles Oct. 13 before the home opener Oct. 15 against Vegas).

“Personally, I have a little more excitement because I was away for such a long time,” said Tanev. “Seeing new faces around the room, we gained some guys who played a lot of NHL games, including Andre, who’s won two Stanley Cups and Oliver is an amazing player. There’s some great young players, drafting Shane [Wright] fourth overall and Matty Beniers stepping into his first full [NHL] training camp. There’s a lot of reasons for our incredible fans to be excited.”

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