Mom's strength through MS fuels Kraken's Jared McCann

Jared McCann leads the Seattle Kraken with 25 goals scored this season. With no playoffs this year, he’s looking to make the most of the team's nine remaining regular season games.

McCann’s family and his journey to Seattle have taught him to find the best through adversity. At just 25 years old, McCann’s already been on five NHL rosters. But making the best out of given circumstances is something he learned at a young age.

"In Canada, we have the AAA program, which is kinda like travel hockey," McCann said. "And as soon as I started playing that, I realized that I, you know, I wanted to stick with it. And it was something that I was pretty good at."

McCann has become the first player in franchise history to sign a contract extension with the team, agreeing to a five-year, $25 million deal last month. 

"Jared has worked hard to establish himself as a good player in this league," Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol said.

"And, you know, coming into this year, he was one of the guys that our organization felt had an opportunity to elevate his game and do a little bit more. And, you know, to his credit, he's been able to do that." 

The journey here wasn’t easy for McCann. Seattle is one of several stops he's made since the Vancouver Canucks drafted him in the first round in 2014. It all started in a small Ontario town, where he had to hold his own against older siblings.

"We all played growing up," McCann said. "So you know, it's pretty cool to kind of, like, get to play with them. We play a lot of mini sticks growing up and a lot, a lot of crying. You know, being too hard on the youngest. So, you know, just kind of learning from them." 

Growing up in Stratford, Ontario, hockey was the obvious choice. 

"We have the Avon river that runs through so in the winter when it freezes everybody's out there skating. So that's just second nature," McCann's mother, Erin McCann said.

As the mom of a hockey family, Erin McCann was the center of a busy household. This, all while managing an unpredictable disease since she was 18 years old. 

"I was diagnosed with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis in ’79," she said. "I've never hid it. So I always had the support of being honest with people and knowing. And as I said to a friend, you know, if they see me trip and fall or something like that, just pick me up, just help me out if I need it only if I ask."

Multiple sclerosis affects the central nervous system, disrupting the flow of information between the brain and body. Erin’s experience has included attacks of numbness, weakness, and sometimes loss of eyesight.

"My mom, she's definitely one of the kind," Jared McCann said. "You know, she's, she's a fighter. She's the reason that like, you know, when things kind of get hard, you kind of look back. A lot of people have it, you know, a lot harder than I do. So you kind of kick yourself a little bit and just kind of go about your day." 

McCann’s ability to see the bigger picture helps during a challenging first season for the Kraken. A tattoo with his mom’s initials and her struggle is a permanent reminder for him to keep fighting.

In Pittsburgh, McCann helped raise awareness and funds to battle MS. He says he would love to start something here in Seattle too. This as his mom says she now uses a cane and a hand-control car. Erin says she’s grateful for Jared’s work, adding there’s still so much unknown about the disease.

"Be positive, be a fighter," Erin McCann said. "Life's not rosy all the time. And, you know, you just have to find that goodness. And that happiness, right."

Thanks to a long-term contract, happiness for this Kraken forward is here in Seattle.

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