“The first part of the recovery was really tough,” Tanev, a couple from 7 a.m., said earlier this week during an exclusive interview on Tuesday. “As an athlete, you’re used to doing whatever you want. And then suddenly you’re exposed to learning how to walk again, learning how to lift your leg.”
Tanev’s mother, Sophie, was a lifesaver for the first two weeks after the successful surgery on December 30. She’s helped her youngest son, one of two NHLers she raised, with the physical needs and added emotional support that nurtures an animated human like Tanif.
“My mom flew for two weeks, and that was cute with her,” said Taniv, who was tweeting assistant coach Jay Leach about his athletic prowess before sitting down for our conversation. “If I didn’t have it, things would have been so hard to get things done, I needed help around the house. She took some time off her schedule to head to Seattle to help me, which is unbelievable.”
However, there were tough days for Tanev, as he knew he was heading towards career heights in goals and assists, along with playing an elevated role for the expansion team. His ability to excite opponents and increase the pace of the crowd at home (there are plenty of #13 shirts every night at Climate Pledge Arena) was at its best.
“It was definitely a little ordeal,” said Tanev, an optimist and cheerleader at the start of camp, which he did on Thursday with Team Blue, complete with training and a brawl that was broadcast live here at www.nhl.com/Kraken and available over here. “Worse things could have happened. I guess once you put that in the back of your mind and get comfortable, I think it’s all [at first in the gym and, by summer, on the ice with other NHL players who train with Kraken sports performance consultant Gary Roberts]. Take yourself back to where you used to play before. It was a grinding process, it wasn’t easy. But I do appreciate the process you are going through. I’m starting to feel really good.”
Part of feeling good and relieved is getting back in with the guys in the Kraken locker room. Tanev’s vocal presence with teammates old and new was evident throughout the Veteran’s casual skates and throughout the player’s training centers from the practice room to the break room to the locker room. It was a highlight of interviews and cheers among the 22 Kraken players who attended last Saturday’s NCAA Michigan-Washington football game that catapulted the Husky to the national rankings.
When asked Wednesday if he has identified his most vocal teammate, the new and purposeful striker Oliver Björkstrand He asked for more days to answer the question but said he’s heard from any number of NHLers across the league that Tanev is, to say the least, a speaker.
While specific player roles will be discussed with Kraken’s coaching staff in the coming days, Tanev was happy to talk about how he can add value to a team looking to compete high from the jump.
“I think, for me, my role stays the same,” Tanev said, explaining that he was not speaking for Dave Huxtall and his assistant coaches, Dave Laurie, Paul McFarland, and Jay Leach. “Obviously I’m someone who likes to be involved physically. I like to bring energy into the game, but at the same time, I keep playing in two directions.”
“I have been in the same vein throughout my career. I am fortunate enough to have great coaches and teams that put me in good positions. At the same time, being part of good teams is having good teammates and everyone understands who they are… a big part of being a part of good teams. An NHL player to have that consistency and not have to deviate from what you bring every night to meet the needs of the team.”
“For me, that’s being loud, energetic, and being physical as well as being a good way forward in two directions contributes aggressively.”
After training and squabbling on Thursday, Tanev confirmed he can approach pre-season and the regular season “without restrictions”.
“I’m ready to go and excited to be there and be with these guys,” Tanev told reporters in the locker room after the first day of camp.
Huxtall said he was impressed by Tanev’s first official comeback day, whether on sleds or group gatherings, such as breakfast, lunch, meetings, and more.
“It was great to have him on the ice today, that’s number one. I loved the way he’s back. He’s been playing through the traffic. It’s a good first step for him. You guys know, he brings a little bit of energy wherever he goes. [smiles all around, coach and media]. It’s good to bring that back into the room.”
Tanev brought in new attackers like Andrei Burakovsky and Oliver Bjorkstrand without asking when asked what makes him excited to start training camp (Thursday), pre-season games (Monday at Climate Pledge Arena), and regular season (October 12 in Anaheim, followed by another road game in Los Angeles) October 13 before the home opening on October 15th vs. Vegas).
“Personally, I’m more excited because I’ve been away for so long,” Tanev said. “Seeing new faces around the room, we acquired some players who have played a lot of NHL games, including Andre, who is a two-time Stanley Cup winner and Oliver is a great player. There are some great young players, they drafted Shane [Wright] Fourth in general and Matty Penners Stepping into his first full [NHL] Training camp. There are so many reasons why our amazing fans are excited.”