A week ago, Thursday, Jordan Eberle had finished talking to a media scrum in front of his locker at Kraken Community Iceplex, calmly explaining he didn’t know whether he was staying with the Kraken or perhaps getting traded before the next day’s 12 noon NHL trade deadline.

Media scrum gone, Eberle leaned over to remove his shin pads, turning to locker neighbor Matty Beniers, kiddingly saying it might be the last time he would be changing out of his equipment “in here.” Eberle was smiling, but he said it softly, not 100 percent sure he would be extending his contract with the Kraken.

Beniers stopped unlacing his skates for a few seconds after hearing the remark. He exhaled a long “Noooooooo!” as if to both refute and reassure his trusted linemate. The next day, Eberle stood in the same place telling media he was relieved and happy to re-up for two more seasons in the PNW. Make no mistake, so were Beniers and all of Eberle’s teammates.

There have been many words of praise this week for Eberle and his reaching 1,001 NHL games, the most recent one coming Thursday after a rousing pre-game ceremony to mark Eberle’s 1,000 NHL appearances with the traditional Silver Stick. No praise carries more weight than hearing from his fellow Kraken, who know him in his many forms: worker, human, foe, mentor, and dad. Let’s take a quick spin around the Kraken locker room to talk about those roles:

The Worker

Kraken assistant coach Dave Lowry knows all about what it takes to play 1,000 or more regular season games in the NHL. He played 1,084 games with five NHL teams, he ranks 244th all-time in games played while Eberle is the 389th NHLer to do it out of some 8,000 players who have appeared in more than 100 years of league play.

When asked what is at the core of Eberle’s longevity, starting as a baby-faced, clean-shaven 20-year-old literally scoring the Goal of the Year in his first NHL game to today’s bearded and wise veteran, Lowry was prompt with his reply.

“The biggest thing is his commitment to playing the 200-foot game, the realization you're not gonna score every shift,” said Lowry. “When you're a young guy coming in and you're a skilled guy, you think every night you're gonna score. The reality is it's a hard league to do that.”

Lowry said Eberle has leveraged a high hockey IQ: “You get smart, right? As you get older, you try to find different areas in your game that you can work on. "Ebs skates with a group [of pros] I work with in the summertime in Calgary. Last summer, he said he wanted to work on his faceoffs. He’s always willing to get better.”

The Human

Kraken fourth-line center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare turned 39 earlier this month. He broke into the league as a 28-year-old and is now in his 10th season and fifth NHL franchise, nearing 700 games played. His life experience and hockey IQ make him an ideal evaluator of Jordan Eberle the man (“I came into this league a boy,” Eberle said last week).

“He’s simply trying to be a good human in every situation possible,” said Bellemare. “Whether he is on the ice, with his family, or has a decision to make [such as re-signing with Seattle], he is a good role model really.

“He’s more the quiet type, but sometimes guys in the league so long don't need to be loud. Their actions and their work speak loudly. I’ve learned to respect that. And playing 1,000 games in the NHL is an enormous statement in the hockey world. I’m not sure people understand just how tough it is in this league to play that long and at his level with injuries. And he’s a guy obviously with a lot more pressure than me [to score]. ... My job is to destroy the other team’s power play. I’m a construction worker. He’s one of our architects.”

The Foe

In the 2021 Eastern Conference final, Yanni Gourde scored a shorthanded goal in Game 7 to send his Tampa Bay Lightning to the Stanley Cup Final and a subsequent Cup win. Now fellow Seattle alternate captains, Gourde has no trouble referencing Eberle as an opposing forward for the New York Islanders, who faced the Lightning in two straight Eastern Conference finals in 2020 and 2021. Down 3-1 in games to Tampa Bay in 2020, Eberle scored the game-winning goal in the second overtime to keep NYI alive in the series before TBL won in six. In 2021, Eberle scored the first goal in the Islanders’ comeback OT win in Game 6 after trailing 2-0 mid-second period.

“He's a great competitor,” said Gourde, thinking back to facing Eberle in high-stakes games. “He's going to give everything he's got on a nightly basis, every single night. The playoffs are when you see the players who can elevate their games. He did that [including scoring the overtime game-winner in Game 4 against defending Cup champion Colorado last postseason, thrilling the Climate Pledge Arena faithful and setting up Seattle to win the series in seven games].”

“Even in practice, Ebs is a tenacious guy, said Jamie Oleksiak, who saw Eberle the foe plenty during his stints in Pittsburgh (two) and Dallas. “He doesn't give up on pucks. He's a guy that may not be of the largest stature but he's not afraid to get the corners and grind. He’s well-known for battling for pucks.”

“He's obviously not the biggest guy,” said Jared McCann, remembering his time in a Pittsburgh uniform. “He plays twice his size. Very strong and skates hard. He’s got amazing hands and can make plays.”

Gourde said the 1,000-NHL game mark is “one of my favorite achievements” in hockey: “It shows how you are as a player to stick around that long ... you battle through injuries and other stuff, you always go out there for your teammates, do all the little things. Ebs represents all of that.”

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The Mentor

The Kraken’s leading goal scorer, Jared McCann, gives much credit to Eberle for mentoring him over the three seasons they have played together in the PNW, often as linemates. For his part, Eberle allows he has encouraged McCann to “get out of his head more.”

“Everyone calls him my therapist,” said McCann, laughing at his Iceplex locker this week. “He’s just a guy I can go and not worry about outside noise or any other stuff. He’s a guy who’s been through a lot in this league, somebody I respect. You know, he’s in my wedding for a reason. He’s been there for me since day one.”

McCann said Eberle’s interface with last Friday’s trade deadline gave him pause.

“I got a little bit nervous, to be honest with you,” said McCann. “I didn't know what was going to happen. I don't think he really did either. It kind of came down to the wire a little bit. You can't you can't replace a guy like him. He means so much to this organization and this team.

It’s no coincidence that Eberle has played alongside prized 2021 No. 2 overall draft choice Matty Beniers since the former University of Michigan star’s impressive 10-game debut at the end of the inaugural season. Beniers was sought out by numerous digital, print, and television reporters this week and never wavered in gushing about his linemate who is 13 years older and 900-some-games wiser even as GM Ron Francis (let’s not forget he is 5th all-time in NHL games played with 1,731) says both players have high hockey IQs.

“Incredible mentor,” said Beniers. “It’s pretty cool when someone that good and for that long, treats you so well, especially as a young guy who hasn’t proven anything yet. That’s how I judge a lot of people’s character: “How they treat young guys and those who don't necessarily have [the talent] to be the best. He’s a great friend and a true role model."

Beniers can’t help but veer into the Worker and Human categories: “He’s such a hard worker, so skilled with the stick. So smart. He thinks about the game in so many different ways. It's fun to talk to him. I like to think about the game and different plays that could have been made and discuss what we watched on film. We bounce ideas off each other and talk through a game, what went great, what went poorly. He’s just a great linemate to learn from and grow with.”

The Parent

Ok, Matty Beniers wants to jump in on the Dad role too: “He’s super caring. He’s one of those guys who, if something's not going great in someone else's life, he almost takes that upon himself to ask what he can do to help things better. He has so much compassion, a lot of love, for not just me, but every guy in this locker room ... He’s got a great balance of what we have to do to get better and knowing when to regroup, get away from hockey for a bit. That definitely translates to being a great parent.”

“We talk about our families a lot,” said Yanni Gourde, who with his wife, Marie-Andree, have a couple of young kids of their own. “We talk about what we do with the kids on days off, which are actually more ‘day-on’ [duties] for us as dads.”

Let the record show Gourde was instantly grinning with that last remark.