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The Kraken enjoyed a pretty good night last Tuesday, beating Anaheim on the strength of four goals and Joey Daccord’s third shutout of the season. But Kris Boudreau’s night was way better.

Boudreau was a winning bidder in an online auction as part of the recent first annual Tidal Shift Gala to benefit One Roof Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Kraken and Climate Pledge Arena. He bid on a head-scratcher, spending a night with me on the press bridge during a home game. One Roof most decidedly appreciates his support and I am privileged to serve the cause.

Let’s just agree I spent the night accompanying Kris, not the other way around. From the Press entrance, Tom and Fred greeting us via elevator and press bridge entry, to the team’s broadcasters, Matty Beniers, Dave Hakstol, and Jamie Oleksiak, Boudreau was warmly welcomed, and he was an engaging conversationalist with all.

As Kris and I plotted the night by email and phone, there was a purposeful anchor (naturally, since the Gala auction was a version of our Anchor Auctions on game nights) to his visit to Tuesday’s game. The Port Orchard resident has founded Kris’ Krew, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the mission of providing accessible rides to Kraken games for disabled fans living in the region. He came prepared with special QR code cards to hand out, plus a QR code placard attached to the armrest of his power wheelchair.

"I served in the Navy for three years, joining when I was 18 [in 1991] and was part of Desert Storm,” said Boudreau while we waited for his certified nursing assistant, Donald Shinault, to join us outside the arena’s Press entrance. “I received a medical retirement when I got a MS [multiple sclerosis] diagnosis [in 1994]. I am proud to have served my country. Now, with Kris’ Krew, I am serving people in another way.”

The initial concept is to raise enough funds to purchase and operate an accessible multi-person bus that would arrange to provide round trips to Kraken fans. From there, Kris envisions providing rides to sports fans of the city’s other professional teams. And he is thinking even bigger, dreaming that, why not, provide such a service to disabled fans in other NHL and sports league cities.

Like so many hockey fans across the PNW, Boudreau was “over the moon” when Seattle was awarded an NHL franchise. He discovered during the inaugural season that it was steep challenge to get to a game from where he lives, the Washington Veterans Home in Port Orchard.

The activist in him awoke, taking his frustration to Facebook and, subsequently, GoFundMe. Members of the social community raised enough funds to hire an accessible ride for Boudreau and two fellow vets to and from Climate Pledge Arena, which gets high marks from Boudreau for accessibility, required by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) but carried out with varying degrees of wheelchair-friendly success at public facilities around the country.

Since that first game, funding has afforded more than 200 veterans and other ADA fans to attend a Kraken game. Boudreau is determined to expand the service to all disabled fans in need, but his visit to the arena this past week was “not about asking for money, but to create awareness ... I want to get the idea out there. The universe will take it from there, the money will come.”

Boudreau said others have stepped up since the initial GoFundMe posting, including Queen Anne Beer Hall and co-owner Gary Szeredy. Lute Chell, who worked as an usher and suite attendant at Climate Pledge Arena but now relocated to Florida, served as vice chairman of Kris’ Krew. Cody Morgan, who also served in the Navy, staged roundup fundraisers at his Penisula BevCo restaurant/bar in Port Orchard this past September and October to raise funds for the nonprofit.

In conversations Tuesday, both pre-game in media dining and post-game in the locker room with the media scrum, Kris introduced his heritage (Vermont, grandparents grew up in Quebec, not far from Yanni Gourde’s hometown), love for hockey (“The Mighty Ducks” movie hooked him as a kid and he played street hockey until the MS worsened and a power wheelchair was necessary by 2017) and intentions for Kris’ Krew.

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“I’m a Taoist,” said Boudreau when explaining why showing up to put a person to the Kris’ Krew dream is better than asking for donations. “I believe in balance in life and everything. You can’t have extremes. You’ve got to be in the middle to sustain yourself and others.

“I think of myself as a gardener of the mind. I like to say that I plant seeds [in this case, providing a service for disabled Kraken fans]. It’s not my responsibility for those seeds to sprout. They will sprout when ready.”

His approach seemed to connect with Matty Beniers, one of the night’s three stars of the game, who made time after a group interview to talk with Boudreau, whose best friend and fellow street hockey player from post-Navy days was killed in a hit-and-run car accident in 1997. The friend is from Hingham, MA, Beniers’ hometown too. Boudreau shared that he believes his friend’s spirit lives on in the Kraken center. Beniers embraced that belief, asked questions about Kris’ Krew and suggested the two should talk more about the nonprofit.

Beniers said, “I’ll be right back,” and returned with a game-used stick. It marked the second stick of the night for Boudreau, who bid successfully on a Yanni Gourde basket during an end-of-season auction. The “basket” included a Gourde stick, plus, of all things, a faucet. Had to ask ... "a faucet?!”

Boudreau smiled one of his numerous grins of the night (he was happiest when it was suggested he and Donald brought luck to a team that was in the midst of ending a winless streak): “I’ve already called my friend who is part of the Ladies of the Kraken Facebook group. She is building a new home, and I told her ‘I have a faucet from Yanni for you!”

Dave Hakstol made time to meet Boudreau as well and was soon asking about Kris’ Krew and wanted to know more about the veterans home in Port Orchard. He asked if Boudreau had contacted other sports teams in town, to which Boudreau said he had made some inquiries.

Kris was beaming as we exited the locker room and out to a foyer that leads to the hallway path out of the arena. Kraken defenseman Jamie Oleksiak was about to come through a side door from private players' quarters when he stopped to let us pass. Kris couldn’t resist. “Hi Jamie!” he said as if the two were old pals.

Oleksiak smiled and talked with Kris for a good 10 minutes. The D-man took out his phone to snap a screenshot of Kris’ QR code explaining the nonprofit. Kris asked for a selfie, and Oleksiak obliged, asking me if I might hold his takeout food and water. Yes, I might.

Boudreau built a formidable set of selfies on the night. Pre-game, he met ROOT Sports analysts Alison Lukan and Nick Olczyk in the media dining room. After taping a segment from between the benches, analyst JT Brown made a special trip to the dining room and signed Tampa Bay Lightning puck.

Then, back up on the press bridge, there was a visit with radio duo Everett Fitzhugh and Al Kinisky in their booth. Moments later, Kris was asking John Forslund to sign his bobblehead box [packed for the occasion] and Eddie Olczyk to sign a puck commemorating the 1994 Stanley Cup winner New York Rangers, of which Kraken analyst was a member. Because of on-air ribbing about cookies (“Nick talks about it the most,” said Kris), the Kraken fan and auction winner had brought a box of blue-iced “Go Kraken”-inscribed sugar cookies to dish out.

By post-game, Boudreau had managed the batch of cookies just right. He had enough in the box for Beniers for a big reason why he brought the custom cookies. “These are for the Three Stars of the Game,” said Boudreau, encouraging the Kraken center to take the box with four cookies remaining. Beniers smiled and thanked Kris. No word on whether goalie Joey Daccord or fellow Star of the Game Eeli Tolvanen got their cookies.

To learn more about Kris’ Krew, check out kkrew.org.