By Lou Korac
Brady Tkachuk knew his older brother, Matthew, was going home to play in his first NHL All-Star Game.
Brady Tkachuk had planned on being there all along to support his brother, but in the meantime, he, like many players around the NHL, were taking a hiatus, on break to rest up for the second half of the season, jaunting to different areas of the globe for some fun and sun.
For Brady Tkachuk, it was the islands of the Bahamas, a trip that had an abrupt ending.
There was a call from his dad, Keith Tkachuk, which went unanswered for a few hours because as Matthew put it, “Brady was having some fun, so he wasn’t around his phone,” but once he got the news that he was going home not just to be a supporter of his brother, Ottawa Senators teammate Anthony Duclair and a host of other players that are friends through the hockey circuit, Brady Tkachuk got word that he would be joining Matthew as All-Stars.
In their hometown for the first time.
“I wasn’t around my phone and I got a bunch of calls and looked down and said, ‘Call me ASAP’ from a couple of people,” Brady Tkachuk said. “I can’t even tell you the emotion. Just immediately thought of sharing this with Matthew and of course in front of the parents (Keith and mom Chantal), my sister [Taryn] as well. Honestly, just super surreal.”
And immediately, the pictures started circulating throughout social media, on Twitter, Instagram and all, with shots of a Blues-clad Keith Tkachuk, a five-time All-Star, along with his two young boys, Matthew and Brady, with dad on the ice soaking in what any kid would do.
“Those are some pictures we’ve hung up in the house too,” Brady Tkachuk said. “I’ve seen those. It’s pretty cool. It’s pretty fitting.”
Yes, fitting that the two of them will participate in their respective first All-Star Game in the city they grew up in, the place they call home.
“It’s exciting that we get to share this moment,” Matthew Tkachuk said. “We both went to that a rink a lot when we were growing up. Now our parents get to enjoy their sons being All-Stars here.”
These were the same boys that after Blues games, you would find them in the locker room with their toy hockey sticks whacking Nerf balls or soft pucks around, and doing so around the likes of guys they will suit up with and against in the next couple days.
“Chantal and ‘Walt’ have to be proud,” said Washington Capitals forward T.J. Oshie, who was with the Blues and a teammate of Keith Tkachuk’s for two seasons (2008-2010). “For them to both make the All-Star Game together back here, and for me to play against them, not only in the NHL but in the All-Star Game makes me feel pretty old. But it’s pretty cool to see the success that they’ve had from coming into the locker room and playing ball hockey after games to making it to an All-Star Game. It says a lot about their parents and their family. I’m really happy for those guys.”
Brady Tkachuk, who has 27 points (15 goals, 12 assists) in 48 games with the Senators, his second in the NHL, was going to come home anyway. He just hadn’t planned on cutting his vacation a day or so short but was glad to do so. He is a replacement for the injured Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“I was coming here anyway to support Matthew and see ‘Duc’ and see guys I know,” Brady Tkachuk said. “There was a little wrinkle in the plans, but I’ll take that and I’m very happy. It was just a whirlwind yesterday.
“Honestly, it hasn’t hit yet. It’s going to hit a lot during these next couple days, but honestly just trying to take it all in and have as much fun as I can. For it to be with Matthew and in St. Louis, it’s just a blessing. I just have to take it all in, have fun and it’s going to be some great family time as well.
“It’s going to be so much fun. I think just kind of being here and being in St. Louis, it’s just been awesome. It’s so much fun. It’s been the best 24 hours I could ask for.”
As for Matthew Tkachuk, who is tied for the Flames lead in points with 38 (15 goals, 23 assists) in 49 games, it adds some spice to an already memorable time for him knowing weeks ago he was coming home.
“It’s kind of like that perfect story,” Matthew Tkachuk said. “For myself and for Brady to be here, for our family to be here, friends, and from what I’ve been told, me and Brady are competing against each other in the skills competition, this is so cool.”
The brothers will indeed not only potentially compete against each other in the All-Star Game, but they will be opponents in the Gatorade NHL Shooting Stars competition.
Photo by AP courtesy of KSDK Sports