ST. LOUIS — It was always in Brady Tkachuk’s plans to head to St. Louis to support his brother Matthew in the NHL All-Star Game. But when a wrist injury forced Auston Matthews to withdraw, the Senators forward cut short his bye week vacation in the Bahamas to join the Atlantic Division team.
“It definitely wrinkles my original plans a little bit but I’m so thankful and so happy be here in St. Louis,” Brady said during Thursday’s NHL All-Star Media Day. “Just being named an NHL All-Star is a huge honor, but getting the opportunity to share it on the ice with my brother and in the city we grew up in is going to be surreal.”
It will be one big happy family reunion in a rink where they spent so much time as kids watching their dad play for the Blues.
“We’ve probably scored 2,000 goals in that building as kids,” said Matthew. “We were here all the time, running around the locker room, probably torturing the trainers.”
“I remember so many good times like that at the rink with dad and my brother growing up,” said Brady. “We have a bunch of pictures of stuff like that and it’s crazy to think that we’ll get to make more memories like that this weekend.”
Keith Tkachuk spent nine years in St. Louis, which allowed Brady and Matthew plenty of ice time and the chance to be around NHL players. Those experiences rubbed off on the boys and it became clear to Keith’s teammates that the boys had hockey in their blood.
“You could tell those two boys, from Day One, they loved the game,” said longtime Blues defenseman Al MacInnis. “They always had hockey sticks in their hands. They talked about hockey. They were students of the game as they were growing up. They would learn the history. They knew all the players.”
The experience also afforded Brady and Matthew the chance to join their dad for two of his five NHL All-Star Game appearances in 2004 and 2009.
You may have seen the picture of a six-year-old Matthew and four-year-old Brady during the 2004 festivities in Minnesota. Who knew 16 years later they’d be in the NHL and All-Stars themselves.
It was when the boys were a little older during the 2009 event that they started idolizing players other than Keith.
“We looked up to my dad, but I think at something like that, we were more obsessed with guys like [Patrick Kane],” Matthew said. “I remember [Alex Ovechkin] was there and [Evgeni Malkin]. All these guys were there, and those were my favorite players growing up watching.
“And so I think that once we were able to be at the age where we were fans of the game and fans of these guys, that’s where we started to appreciate a lot. We got tons of pictures. My mom always made us take pictures. It was fun to be a part of something like that, especially at the age where we could remember it.”
Now here they are as All-Stars, playing in an event with Kane and two of their dad’s former teammates, Alex Pietrangelo and T.J. Oshie. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Tkachuks and they’re going to enjoy it as much as they can.
“Honestly, I don’t think we’ve ever talked about this,” Brady said. “It’s just crazy how it’s worked out. I think Matthew and I are just going into it just to have as much fun as we can.”
The 2020 NHL All-Star Skills Competition will take place on Friday, Jan. 24 (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN) and the 2020 NHL All-Star Game will be on Saturday, Jan. 25 (8 p.m. ET, NBC).