NHL

‘This kid’s a player’: Matty Beniers is making a big impact in Seattle

‘This kid’s a player’: Matty Beniers is making a big impact in Seattle

‘This kid’s a player’: Matty Beniers is making a big impact in Seattle

Matty Beniers he will not read this or any story about himself. Beniers is so serious about this edict that he asked his parents to stop sending him articles that have anything to do with him.

Humility is everything for Beniers. That’s why he thinks it’s better to concentrate on other elements of life than what people say about him.

It’s also ironic, since people can’t stop talking about Beniers. His name is always mentioned whenever anyone talks about him Seattle Krakenfirst success He starts talking about the Calder Trophy race and his name is one of the first to be mentioned. Beniers is only 27 games into his NHL career, but he’s already popular enough in Seattle to start getting stopped for autographs and pictures when he’s out in public.

His colleagues joke that they are tired of talking about him. But they all have a lot to say about what has allowed him to excel as a 20-year-old in the NHL while expressing what makes him a special person who wants to do well for those around him.

The affinity for Beniers is so strong that the Kraken’s pre-game introduction video has 30 seconds dedicated exclusively to Beniers. He talks about what the future looks like and how he’s part of “The Next Wave” of players expected to lead the franchise for years to come.

Of course, Beniers will not know much about this because he will never read about it.

“I’ve never liked to see things about me,” Beniers said. “I don’t really know why. I think I might have seen other people around me just the opposite and I just didn’t like it. So I started doing it when I was young.”

Beniers has been managing expectations since the Kraken selected him with the second pick in the 2021 NHL Draft. The selection of Beniers came with the belief that the Kraken had a prospect who projected as a top two-way center line that could become one of the cornerstones of their franchise for years to come.

Going 27-49-6 in their inaugural season meant the Kraken had to make the prospect of a bright future a selling point for fans. Everyone saw that future last season when Beniers left the University of Michigan after his sophomore year to sign an entry-level contract and scored nine points in his first 10 NHL games.

“The first practice that was on the ice, I was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s good!’ “, the Kraken forward Yanni Gourde said “It was at that point when you say, ‘This kid’s a player.’ A lot of guys come out of college, they come out of junior high, and you don’t know if they have it right away. He’s that kid that really stepped on the ice and you knew that kid he’ll be fine soon.”

Beniers already had one point — one assist — in his first NHL game. What he accomplished in his first match at the Climate Pledge Arena only raised expectations. He was active in both areas while making plays that the casual fan or more avid observer could appreciate.

He also scored his first NHL goal in that same game that went into overtime. Kraken coach Dave Hakstol trusted Beniers enough to deploy him for three minutes of ice time in the extra frame. What was undoubtedly Beniers’ strongest showing was when he tried to set up the game-winning goal in OT without looking, between the legs. The confidence he showed was so strong that he was one of three skaters selected in a shootout that ultimately won Kraken.

“You’re not too surprised at anything I do,” Kraken said Jordan Eberle. “You’re amazed at the confidence level of doing that to come off a college season and go into the NHL and go right there. He’s a very confident kid, but he handles it in a very good way.”

Skill is only part of the package. Eberle, an alternate captain, said Beniers has shown the maturity and personality needed to thrive in an NHL locker room. What stood out most about Eberle was the fact that Beniers did it late in the season at a time when the team already had its identity.

First-year players tend to be more reserved at first. They take their time trying to figure out the dressing room before speaking and showing their personalities. No Beniers. Eberle said Beniers had no trouble fitting in with the rest of the team.

“He’s sociable. He likes to talk. He likes to tweet,” Eberle said. “I think when you have a kid, that at a young age like that, you can get under his skin and he’s able to have the confidence to give it back, that’s a good thing. That means you’re a good fit.”

Another way to fit Beniers is with his contributions. He is second on the team in goals and is tied for third in points (11). He is third among forwards in total ice time, second in 5-on-5 ice time and second in power play ice time.

As for rookie stats: Beniers leads all rookies with 11 points, is second with five goals and sixth with five assists. He also ranks second in ice time among rookie forwards and 11th among all rookie skaters.

There is also the confidence he has shown in the defensive zone. He is sixth among Kraken forwards in defensive zone tackles and is fourth in defensive zone starts, according to Natural Stat Trick. Those numbers help create a set that shows Beniers is developing into the well-rounded player Kraken believes is a strong part of his future.

Beniers is showing even at this stage in his career that he can be that top-six center capable of impacting a game in multiple ways. Having someone like Beniers, among others, is one of the reasons why the Kraken have become one of the NHL’s top surprises in the first quarter of the season.

“He’s a great player and a great human being, which makes him a very special and important person in this organization,” Gourde said. “You’re not just trying to build an organization that has a good team every year, you’re trying to build a team with good character and good people. That’s how you build a foundation in an organization.”

Good people. This is everything Bob and Christine Beniers wanted their three children to be when they grew up. They saw the first signs of this in their youngest son when he was playing junior league basketball at home in Hingham, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston.

Beniers had a teammate who wasn’t the best at basketball. But Beniers kept passing the ball to him to make sure that particular teammate had the chance to make some shots in the match.

“After the game, that kid’s mom thanked me for what Matty did,” Bob recalled. “She said, ‘My son never touches the ball… That’s how any parent should want their son and daughter to be.’ This is being humble and kind to people and being aware of other people’s feelings. This is much more important. than hockey”.

Then Bob learned another story. It was Halloween when Gourde and his family went to visit Beniers and Will Borgen, who share a house together. The Gourdes arrived only to find Beniers and Borgen dressed in costumes so the Gourde’s two daughters could have Halloween with them before going out for presents later that night.

“Stuff like that is how you know it’s genuine, super good, super nice, and we appreciated that,” Gourde said.

Beniers and Borgen are housemates who have bonded over gaming, watching Game of Thrones, playing video games and debating who is the worst at Mario Kart.

“They write to each other from their bedrooms,” he joked Carson Soucywho sits next to Borgen in the locker room at the team’s practice facility.

Borgen said Beniers is a clean roommate who is also guilty of leaving clothes in the dryer for a few days. He says they don’t cook much. But when they do, Beniers is the better cook of the two. Borgen says Beniers’ specialty is its garlic bread. Beniers may have shown those skills the weekend before Thanksgiving when his parents and two brothers flew to Seattle to do their version of Thanksgiving together with Borgen.

Going out to dinner gives them a chance to hang out even more, explore different restaurants, and also see more of Seattle. It’s just that going out to dinner also means that Beniers is learning what it means to be a professional athlete in a public environment.

“Some people might want a picture with him, some people might want to say hi, some people just look at him and look at him a little bit,” Borgen said. “It’s probably his first year getting it quite a bit, but he’s a very nice person who was raised well and that’s why he handles things so well.”

What is it like to be Beniers? How does he handle what comes with being a top-line NHL center, who could win the Calder and help the Kraken now and in the future, all while doing it in a market that’s still new to hockey?

“I have no idea!” Beniers says in a way that makes everyone around him laugh. “I don’t even think about it. I think I have high expectations that exceed other people’s expectations. I think for a lot of guys on this team, somebody could say, ‘You had a great game,’ and you might think I played bad. I feel like I’m the same.”

Bob, however, has a way of describing it: it’s surreal. For his family, they realize it was only a few years ago when Matty moved away from home to play in the National Team Development Program. The lessons he learned at the NTDP remain with him to this day. Bob said the reason Matty takes a nap before every game is because that’s what they did at the NTDP to help players understand how sleep can affect a routine.

Bob and Christine watch Matty’s games on TV. They also try to see him in person when time permits. They flew to Pittsburgh not just to watch the Kraken play the Penguins. But they flew to make sure they could celebrate their son’s 20th birthday. Bob said Christine made sure her son got his presents and “a big hug from mommy” because those things are still important.

“I tell him all the time he’s a very lucky young man,” Bob said. “I’ve also told her to take lots of pictures so she can remember the trip.”



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