The Travelling Hat: History, Logistics, and Ritual of the Davy Jones Hat
When the Seattle Kraken hits the road, they pack just under 5,000 pounds of equipment and gear on 73 different occasions. And somewhere in there, there’s a single box weighing a total of 15 pounds with a very precious cargo: Davy Jones’ hat.
Davy Jones’ Hat is the Kraken’s version of the game’s player prize. Each team has one. Whether it’s a hat, a belt, or something else, it’s a talisman given by the players to one of their own that they feel deserves special recognition for their efforts to earn a victory.
“It’s nice to have something to share,” said Yanni Gourde. “It’s fun to show appreciation for someone who had a great game. It’s a good team bonding thing that goes around (the room).
But while some teams have a small cap or item that easily slips into a player’s bag or even a coach’s personal bag, the Krakens have upped their game.
The team started with a simple hat. But when Kraken investor and renowned film producer Jerry Bruckheimer saw that the team was using a pirate’s hat, he was inspired. On November 24, after Seattle beat Carolina at home 2-1, Davy Jones’ hat was revealed.
With its size and intricate design, this gamer’s prize couldn’t fit into a bag, so now it lives in its own case. And when it’s time to give it to another player, assistant equipment manager Kris Stierwalt takes it from “home” and places it in the last winner’s locker for them to make their next presentation.
At least that’s what happens most of the time.
You never want to tempt the hockey gods, of course. Stierwalt waits to make sure the team can be sure a win is coming before taking the prize too early. Sometimes that means you end up a touch late.
Tweet from @SeattleKraken: After seeing players wearing a pirate hat, #SeaKraken investor Jerry Bruckheimer decided to create a special surprise for the team’s Player of the Game award. Introducing From the Deep in the Sea – The Davy Jones Hat. pic.twitter.com/KcjH46OLao
But that doesn’t happen often. Will Borgen earned the cap following the Kraken’s 4-0 win in Montreal. Vince Dunn’s delivery to him was smooth.
“It’s always there, usually,” Borgen said with a smile. “(Stierwalt) has been called.”
And once the hat is given, it’s up to Stierwalt to collect it and put it back in its box for safekeeping before traveling to its next destination.
But it’s not just the hat and the way it travels that’s unique. Entering this season, the reason for the hat itself took on a new meaning.
Going into the 2022-23 season, some of the players got together and discussed many things. Including what it meant to truly be the gamer.
“We talked,” Adam Larsson said. “(Last year) we looked at a lot of personal bests when it comes to points and stuff. That’s not really the way to build a team. So (this year) we wanted more (a team focus) in the room our strip and game play.
“I think we need to emphasize a lot more of the little things in the game. Obviously, you’re going to see extra goals or whatever. Those are big. But when you have guys blocking shots every night and defending the team. it’s something which we have to really push for. It’s going to drive the whole team forward.”
Tweet from @SeattleKraken: Things we love about SEA: – Matty standing up for his teammates – Matty in Davy Jones hat – Matty saying “way to be a pack of dogs” pic.twitter.com/reR4IcUekp
The players went to head coach Dave Hakstol to share their idea and then approached the team before the start of the season about what Davy Jones’ hat should be.
“I think it’s a super cool idea,” Gourde said. “Everybody wants to score goals. But at the end of the day, usually the details of the defensive play are the difference in a win and (those) are why we’ve won. Why we’ve been successful this year is the details and what maybe not are on the scoreboard, but they mean a lot….the details are what I look at and I’m like, ‘wow, we’ve really (have) improved and made a step as a team.”
Larsson says that if a player doesn’t know who might be a good man-of-the-game candidate, they can always ask what other teammates noticed in a game. And every player who takes the hat knows what it means.
“I think usually most teams go by points or something,” Borgen said. “We made it so we do more things other than points, if the points come good, but (it’s about the other things).
“It’s just nice (to get it). You know you have to do something right there that your teammates appreciate.”
When the Kraken are at home, the hat goes back to the chest between matches. Some of the shells have come off and are wobbly around the bottom of the Pelican’s case, so the team wants to keep it as pristine as possible.
This has been a challenge in a year when the hat is coming out a lot more. After Saturday’s record-setting win in Chicago, Seattle is one win away from matching their win total through the entire 2021-22 season.
“I think it’s good,” Larsson said of the change in why the hat is awarded after each win. “I think if guys really want it, it’s necessary when you’re doing something that’s valuable to the team.”