KC deal almost led to reckoning for Seattle NHL club

The Seattle Kraken have reached an agreement with the Kansas City Mavericks to serve as the NHL club's minor league affiliate. The deal almost brought with it a headache when news surfaced of a former Mavericks player's conviction of sexual assault.



August 5, 2022 - 2:43 PM

Alex Wennberg #21 of the Seattle Kraken and Logan Couture #39 of the San Jose Sharks take the opening faceoff at Climate Pledge Arena on April 29, 2022, in Seattle, Washington. Photo by (Steph Chambers/Getty Images/TNS)

SEATTLE — That’s one Kansas City-sized cow pie the Kraken just barely avoided stepping in last week upon announcing their latest minor league affiliate.

Hours after last Thursday’s pact with the Kansas City Mavericks became official, social media was abuzz about the ECHL team last season employing a player, Ben Johnson, once imprisoned for sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl in a Windsor, Ontario, nightclub bathroom in 2013. Turns out the Mavericks even made a qualifying contract offer to Johnson by a June 30 deadline before he opted to play overseas, meaning they still owned his rights mere weeks before the affiliation agreement.

Kraken general manager Ron Francis told me last Friday he’d been unaware of Johnson or his history before the social-media revelations but was subsequently assured he’d left. Mavericks GM Tad O’Had, a Yakima native, reaffirmed by email: “Ben Johnson is not on the roster and is no longer a member of the KC Mavericks. He has signed to play in Slovakia for the 22-23 season.”

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