Matty Beniers will not be reading this or any other story about himself. Beniers takes this decree so seriously that he asked his parents to stop sending him articles that have anything to do with it.
Humility means everything to Beniers. That’s why he thinks it’s better to focus on other aspects of life rather than what people say about him.
It’s also ironic considering people can’t stop talking about Benyers. His name is always mentioned whenever someone talks about the early success of the Seattle Kraken. Start talking about the Calder Trophy race and his name will be one of the first to be mentioned. Benyers has only played 27 games in his NHL career, but he’s already popular enough in Seattle that he’s starting to get stopped for autographs and photos when he’s out in public.
His teammates joke that they are tired of talking about him. But they all say so much about what enabled him to excel at the age of 20 in the NHL, and also about what makes him a special person who wants to do the right thing with others.
The affinity for Beniers is so strong that the Kraken’s introductory video before the game has 30 seconds dedicated exclusively to Beniers. It talks about his future and how he is part of the “Next Wave” of players who are expected to lead the franchise for years to come.
Of course, Beniers won’t know much about it, because he’ll never read about it.
“I just never liked seeing things about myself,” Beniers said. “I really don’t know why. I think I could see other people around me doing the opposite and I just didn’t like it. So I started doing it when I was young.”
Beniers has lived up to expectations ever since he was selected by the Kraken with the second overall pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. The choice of Beniers was driven by the belief that the Kraken would get a potential client that would be a top-notch two-way hub that could potentially be one of the cornerstones of their franchise for years to come.
A record of 27-49-6 in their first season meant that Kraken had to make the prospect of a better future attractive to fans. Everyone saw that future last season when Beniers left the University of Michigan after his sophomore year to sign a rookie contract and scored nine points in his first 10 NHL games.
“At the first practice, when he was on the ice, I was like, ‘Oh my God, he’s good! “It was at that moment when you thought, ‘This kid is a player.’ A lot of guys come out of college, they come out of juniors, and you don’t know if they have it right away. He’s the guy who really got on the ice and you knew this guy was going to be good straight away.”
Benyers had already scored a point – an assist – in his first NHL game. What he accomplished in his first game at the Climate Pledge Arena only raised expectations. He was active in both zones, making games that the casual fan or the more discerning observer could appreciate.
He also scored his first NHL goal in the same game that went into overtime. Kraken coach Dave Huxtall trusted Beniers enough to use him for three minutes on the ice in an extra frame. Perhaps Beniers’ most powerful display was when he attempted to score the game-winning OT goal with a pass without looking between his legs. The confidence he showed was so strong that he was one of three skaters chosen in a shootout that the Kraken ultimately won.
“You’re not too surprised by what he’s doing,” Kraken forward Jordan Eberle said. “You are shocked at the level of self-confidence to do this, to finish the college season, move to the NHL and start right away. He’s a very confident kid, but he handles it very well.”
Skill is only one part of the package. Eberle, an alternate captain, said that Beniers showed the maturity and personality needed to thrive in the NHL locker room. What stood out the most for Eberle was that Beniers did it at the end of the season when the team already had its own identity.
First-year players are usually more reserved at first. They need time to sort out the locker room before speaking and showing their individuality. Not Beniers. Eberle said Beniers had no problem fitting in with the rest of the team.
“He is sociable. He loves to talk. He loves to tweet,” Eberle said. “I think when you have a child who is at such a young age, you can get under his skin and he can be sure to bring it back, which is good. It means you are the perfect fit.”
Another way that Beniers has fitted in is through his contributions. He is second on the team in goals and tied for third in points (11). He is third among forwards in total playing time, second in 5-on-5 playing time, and second in powerplay time.
As for rookie stats, Beniers leads all rookies with 11 points, is second with five goals and sixth with five assists. He also ranks second in time on ice among rookie forwards and 11th among all rookie skaters.
There is also the trust that he had in the defense zone. He ranks sixth among Kraken forwards in defensive end throw-ins and fourth in defensive end starts per Natural Stat Trick. These numbers help paint the big picture, showing that Beniers is evolving into a versatile player that Kraken believes is an important part of their future.
Beniers is showing that even at this point in his career, he can be a top-six center who can influence the game in several ways. Having a man like Beniers, among others, is one of the reasons the Kraken became one of the NHL’s biggest surprises in the first quarter of the season.
“He’s a great player and a great person, which makes him a very special and important person in this organization,” Gurd said. “Not only are you trying to build an organization that has a good team every year, but you’re trying to build a team with good character and good people. That’s how you build the foundation in an organization.”
Good people. It’s everything Bob and Christine Beniers ever wanted their three kids to get older. They saw early signs of this in their youngest child when he played youth basketball at home in Hingham, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston.
Beniers had a teammate who wasn’t the best in basketball. But Beniers kept passing the ball to him to make sure that this particular teammate had a chance to hit a few shots in the game.
“After the game, the mother of this child thanked me for what Matty had done,” Bob recalled. “She said: “My son never touches the ball… This is how parents should be for their son and daughter to be like that. Be humble and kind to people and be aware of other people’s feelings. It’s much more important.” than hockey.
Then Bob learned about another story. It was Halloween when Gurd and his family went to visit Beniers and Will Borgen, who live together in the same house. The Gourdes arrived, only to find that Beniers and Borgen were dressed up in costume so that Gourdes’ two daughters could spend Halloween with them before heading out for a treat that same night.
“Things like this are how you know they’re real, super good, super cute, and we appreciate that,” Gurd said.
Beniers and Borgen are housemates who bond over watching games, watching Game of Thrones, playing video games and arguing about who’s worse at Mario Kart.
“They’re texting each other from their rooms,” joked Carson Susi, who sits next to Borgen in the dressing room at the team’s training ground.
Borgen said Beniers is a clean housemate who is also guilty of leaving his laundry in the dryer for days. He says they don’t cook much. But when they do, Beniers cooks better than the two of them. Borgen says Beniers’ specialty is his garlic bread. Perhaps Beniers demonstrated these skills on the Thanksgiving weekend when his parents and two siblings flew to Seattle to celebrate Thanksgiving in their version with Borgen.
Going out for dinner gives them the opportunity to socialize even more, visit different restaurants, and see more of Seattle. Just going out to dinner also means Beniers is learning what it’s like to be a professional athlete in a public setting.
“Some people might want to take a picture with him, some people might want to say hello, some people just look and look at him a little,” Borgen said. “It’s probably his first year, but he’s a really good person who was brought up right and that’s why he’s doing everything so well.”
What is it like to be Beniers? How does he deal with what’s happening with an NHL front row center who can win Calder and help the Kraken now and in the future, all in a market that’s still new to hockey?
“I have no idea!” Beniers speaks in such a way that everyone around him laughs. “I do not even think about it. I think I have high expectations that exceed everyone else’s. played horribly. I feel like I’m the same.”
Bob, however, has a way of describing it: it’s surreal. As for their family, they realize that just a few years ago, Matty moved out of his home to play in the national team development program. The lessons he learned in NTDP he still carries with him today. Bob said the reason Matty takes a nap before every game is because that’s what they did at NTDP to help players understand how sleep can affect daily routines.
Bob and Kristin watch Matty’s games on TV. They also try to see him in person when time permits. They flew to Pittsburgh not only to watch the Kraken play with the Penguins. But they flew in to celebrate their son’s 20th birthday. Bob said Christina made sure their son got gifts and a “big hug from mom” because those things are still important.
“I tell him all the time that he is a very lucky young man,” Bob said. “I also told him to take a lot of photos so that he would remember the trip.”