The Seattle Kraken are starting to make hires to their medical staff and front office. They announced a set of new hires on Wednesday morning, including former Washington Capitals’ video coach Tim Ohashi and assistant medical trainer Mike Booi. They will both keep their same titles with the Kraken.
The #SeaKraken group gets stronger, bigger and better prepared for the 2021-22 season with seven key hires in hockey operations.
— Seattle Kraken (@NHLSeattle_) October 21, 2020
The departures of Ohashi and Booi come after the Capitals replaced head coach Todd Reirden with Peter Laviolette following a second consecutive first-round in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, where they lost to the New York Islanders in five games. The team will likely announce replacements later.
“Today marks another milestone for the Kraken as we bring on core components of the hockey operations staff,” said Kraken GM Ron Francis in a press release. “Each individual brings years of experience and a desire to make us a great hockey franchise.”
Ohashi and Booi were both on the Capitals’ staff when the team won the Stanley Cup in 2018.
Congratulations to Tim Ohashi and Michael Booi on their new opportunities with the Seattle Kraken. Thank you for your unwavering work ethic, commitment and dedication to the @Capitals organization. We wish you all the best! https://t.co/1C0hHgel0P
— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) October 21, 2020
The team also hired Nate Brookreson to be the head strength and conditioning coach, Jeff Camelio as the head equipment manager, Eric Mathiasen who will be the hockey operations developer, John Mavroudis to be the hockey operations data engineer, and Gary Roberts as the Kraken’s sports science and performance consultant.
The Kraken’s first season will be in 2021-22.
When Mike Booi moved from the Arizona Coyotes to the Washington Capitals in a similar assistant trainer role for the 2017-18 NHL season, there turned out to be one major differentiator. The Capitals won the Stanley Cup in that first season. In the traditional “Day with the Cup” summer tour for the title-winning hockey operations staff, Booi brought the hallowed trophy to his hometown of Lake Odessa, MI (about halfway between Grand Rapids and East Lansing).
All sorts of friends and family visited his parents’ house in what Booi desired to be a low-key celebration for an athletic trainer who worked his way up through professional hockey levels of the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL), American Hockey League (AHL) and NHL. But Seattle’s new head athletic trainer-“very exciting, a dream job”-did bring a touching mix of humor and sentiment to the day: He and his wife, Laura, took daughter Hayes (“now three-and-a-half”) for her first-ever dish of ice cream. The dish? The Stanley Cup. The ice cream? From the local Dairy Queen, the very same store where Booi worked his first-ever job.
Booi will work in collaboration with the team’s medical staff to implement the organization’s injury prevention, maintenance and recovery programs for all Kraken players, along with overseeing the athletic training staff. He says his ECHL, AHL and NHL jobs have included some “really good seasons on good teams” and, well, some klunkers. He is a believer in “championship culture” in which “egos are checked at the door and nobody is better than anyone else.” The father of two (son Casey is 15 months old) sees building out the Kraken athletic training staff as all about “hiring the right people” who fit the championship culture (which he observed first-hand with Capitals and also with the NFL Chicago Bears for the 2006 season when the storied franchise made it to the Super Bowl for just the second time). Booi is enthusiastic about the Kraken’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion for hiring: “All it takes is getting that one chance.”
Graduating from Bates College in Lewiston, ME, Tim Ohashi planned to be a middle-school math teacher. Then a major back issue caused him to return to his parents’ home in Bethesda, MD, to await back surgery. His mother and his girlfriend (now fiancé) urged him to maybe quell his restlessness by taking some sports management graduate courses at Georgetown University. The lightbulb clicked on for Ohashi’s career.
“I was the kid who didn’t want to watch cartoons, I just wanted to watch sports,” says Ohashi. “Or I wanted to go outside and play sports, especially ball hockey…When I was five or six, my cousins from Minnesota came to town for Christmas. They took me to a Capitals game, which I loved. The sports management classes brought it all back.”
Ohashi earned a master’s degree in the process, along with an internship with newly hired coach Barry Trotz and the Washington coaching staff. Ohashi got to know Trotz, who of course helped the Caps and superstar Alex Ovechkin win a Stanley Cup and also talked glowingly about working for an expansion franchise in Nashville.
“That has always stuck with me,” says Ohashi, who will work closely with hockey operations staff, including scouts and coaches, to provide insight and prepare video analysis of Kraken players and opponents. “Working for an expansion team is a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Ohashi admits to thinking about working for the Seattle NHL organization as soon as the team’s ownership group was awarded the league’s 32nd franchise. One added reason: His fiancé, Nicole Kahn, grew up in Seattle as a huge Mariners and Seahawks fan.
Capitals players will miss Ohashi’s meticulous work as a video analyst-along with Ohashi’s father, Kenichi. The elder Ohashi was on his first “Mentor’s Trip” in 2017, traveling first to St. Louis, Dallas and Tampa Bay. To help motivate the team, Tim promised that if the team won in Tampa, his dad would do 100 pushups. The players, including Tom Wilson and Mt. Vernon native T.J. Oshie were intrigued because they heard Kenichi Ohashi was a 5th degree black belt in the Japanese martial art, shorinji kempo. The Capitals won in overtime and the rest is Twitter history.
By Harrison Brown