Keith Tkachuk

2020 NHL All-Star Skills: Winners, fun moments, Hertl as Bieber

All-Star Skills competitions bring about memorable moments in plenty of years. Yet, when Tomas Hertl donned a Justin Bieber mask, fans received something truly unusual: nightmare fuel.

Luckily, that (honestly chilling) vision was just one memorable image from the 2020 NHL All-Star Skills competition. Let’s go over the events, winners, and other fun stuff.

Keeping the St. Louis (and surrounding areas) faithful happy

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Ryan O'Reilly rocked a Chiefs helmet during warm-ups, while Jordan Binnington also supported the Super Bowl-bound team. The Chiefs did the Blues a solid during their Stanley Cup run, so why not pay it forward? Most importantly: it looked funny.

Matthew Tkachuk also went for a cheap pop from the St. Louis crowd by taking off his jersey to reveal St. Louis Cardinals garb during the Shooting Stars competition.

The greatest fan service came during appearances by big names of old. Wayne Gretzky — announced, accurately if amusingly, as a former Blue — really kicked things off. Brett Hull took a shot during the Shooting Stars event, and Keith Tkachuk also joined in alongside Matthew and Brady Tkachuk.

Personally, though, the best moment of all of those cameos came when Al MacInnis showed that he could still provide one of the hardest shots of any human.

Dude is 56. Allegedly.

Shea Weber ended up reclaiming his Hardest Shot title, while Patrick Kane won Shooting Stars.

Hertl wears the Bieber mask, creates nightmare fuel

As great as Hertl was at playing off of Jordan Binnington’s feud/friendly wager with Jordan Binnington (the Blues can fill you in on that), the actual execution of the mask makes me think of Michael Myers. You know, the creepy-masked slasher movie villain guilty of untold fictional executions in the “Halloween” series.

It’s still funny stuff, so enjoy the video above. Just maybe don’t let those images of Hertl as Bieber sink into your soul.

*Shudders*

Hertl explained after the Skills competition that the mask slipped, which made it difficult for him to put a decent shot on Binnington. That slip might also explain why it made it look like Bieber was the face for the rebooted “Shape,” which would make Bieber the next William Shatner.

Anyway, Binnington made that save, and also made the St. Louis crowd happy by winning save relay with 10 saves.

Binnington also got to chirp “Biebs,” saying he expected more. Nicely done.

Who won 2020 NHL All-Star Skills events, including Elite Women’s 3-on-3

So, the strangeness was mostly contained in those moments above. Granted, the Shooting Stars seems like it needs some fine-tuning, and I personally prefer styrofoam or otherwise breakable targets to the digital ones in this year’s accuracy competition.

But beyond those quibbles, the rest of the action was straightforward enough that we can breeze through the winners in one convenient spot.

Winners of Elite 3-on-3 Women’s Hockey: Canada 2-1

Hardest Shot: Shea Weber (106.5 mph)

Fastest Skater: Mathew Barzal (13.175 seconds) upset Connor McDavid (13.215)

Accuracy Shooting: Jaccob Slavin (9.505 seconds)

Save Streak: Jordan Binnington (10 saves)

Shooting Stars: Patrick Kane (22, then 2 in tiebreaker)

Itching for more All-Star Skills fun? Check out the 2019 edition.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Patrick Kane beats Mitch Marner in tiebreaker to win first Shooting Stars event

To jeers from the St. Louis faithful, Patrick Kane won the first rendition of the “Shooting Stars” competition at the 2020 NHL All-Star Skills Event.

Now, the crowd wasn’t booing just because Kane plays for the Blues’ rival Blackhawks in the Central Division. Some might have been grumbling because of some rules confusion. In particular, shooters going for 10 points often felt like they hit the mark, only to realize that they were foiled by the arc. That happened most dramatically when Mitch Marner thought he hit 10 during the tiebreaker round against Kane (and Ryan O'Reilly?). Once it was clear Marner got nothing, Kane pulled off the equivalent to getting a field goal to win in NFL overtime.

Shooting Stars brings some fun. It also is the sort of activity where you can get a pop from the crowd by bringing in retired stars. The audience received two such treats, as Keith Tkachuk joined his ragamuffin sons Brady and Matthew Tkachuk for an attempt. Brett Hull also took to the stage on behest of Ryan O’Reilly.

People worked the crowd beyond that. As often as Matthew Tkachuk plays the role of pro wrestling villain, he drew some easy cheers by showing off a Cardinals jersey. (To be fair, Matthew spent plenty of time in the area, so he might be a “shoot” Cardinals fan, to use pro wrestling parlance.)

So … maybe this one needs some fine-tuning, but it was really fun, including strong showings from Marie-Philip Poulin and Hilary Knight. Hockey combining Dude Perfect trick shot videos with Skee-Ball seems like a winner. Now they just need to print out tickets so people can earn worthless nicknacks.

Results

Patrick Kane – 22, “2” in tiebreaker

Mitch Marner – 22, narrowly missed 10 in tiebreaker
Matthew Tkachuk – 20
Marie-Philip Poulin – 15
Hilary Knight – 14
Ryan O’Reilly – 14
David Perron – 14
Tyler Seguin – 14
David Pastrnak – 10
Brady Tkachuk – 6

Brady, Matthew Tkachuk ready for memorable All-Star experience

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.

[MORE: NHL All-Star Game 2020: Rosters, schedule, jerseys, more]

“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.

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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).

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Keith chuckles at son Brady Tkachuk’s fight with Red Wings’ Ericsson

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For many parents, seeing their kids suffer through pain hurts more than personally experiencing it.

But when it’s sort of losing a fight in a lower-stakes kind of way, maybe you can chuckle? At least, maybe you do when you’re Keith Tkachuk, and you’ve raised two true hockey ragamuffins in Brady Tkachuk and Matthew Tkachuk. Chances are, Keith’s probably more preoccupied with getting his sons not to obnoxiously dangle their mouthpieces out of their mouths.

(And, yeah, maybe to make sure Matthew doesn’t get hosed on his second contract.)

Anyway, Keith was on hand to see – and chuckle at – Brady, the younger of the two NHL Tkachuk kids, getting into a fight with Jonathan Ericsson of the Detroit Red Wings. It’s probably fair to say that Ericsson got the better of Brady, but judge for yourself in the video above this post’s headline, via Sportsnet.

Judging by Hockey Fights’ listings, the family fight counts are now unofficially:

Brady: Three. He’s a rookie, so he’s clearly endearing himself to opponents already.

Matthew: Seven through three seasons.

Keith: 51 fights during 1,201 regular-season and 89 playoff contests.

Considering the temperaments of the Tkachuk brothers and father, chances are we’ll see more scuffles for both Brady and Matthew before they hopefully enjoy retirement as much as Keith seems to be enjoying it. And then there can be aggravating, skilled Tkachuk grandsons.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Tkachuk brothers keep proving they’re not just trolls

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There’s just something annoying, maybe enraging, about Brady Tkachuk and Matthew Tkachuk.

Keith’s progeny bring a lot to the table of obnoxiousness. Some of their facial expressions practically demand a mitt in the mush. That only intensifies when they stick their mouthpieces out like plastic tongues. One can only imagine how irritating their trash talk can be, considering that even Brady refers to Matthew as a “pest.”

For opponents, the worst part is that they aren’t just the worst, they’re also among the best players on their respective teams. And it sure seems like they keep getting better, which should only make them bigger headaches.

The Brad Marchand Club

While pure pests are becoming an endangered species in the NHL, there are still some who can eke out a living even if they do little beyond getting under your skin.

It’s early, even in Matthew’s career, but it sure feels like it’s going to be increasingly appropriate to compare the Tkachuk brothers to Brad Marchand, a hyper-talented hyper-pest.

Through 24 games, Matthew Tkachuk has generated an impressive 27 points for the Calgary Flames.

Remarkably, he continues to do a significant chunk of his damage at even-strength, as only nine of his 27 points have come on the power play. Brady Tkachuk is creating a similar impact so far, as he’s managed 16 points in his first 14 games with the Ottawa Senators, with a mere four being PPP.

Now, it’s important to note the Tkachuk puck luck at hand. Matthew’s 12 goals come on just 54 SOG (22.2 percent), while Brady’s nine goals happened on a mere 43 SOG (20.9 percent).

With such high percentages in mind, it’s probably dangerous to pencil them in as point-per-game players, at least not until they start generating a little more offense on special teams. Regardless, the overarching point remains sound: like Marchand, Claude Lemieux, and select few, the Tkachuk brothers can hurt your soul, harm your body, and embarrass you on the scoreboard.

Smart pests

It remains to be seen if either Tkachuk can truly join Marchand in the NHL’s upper crust, but it sure seems like both stand a chance of using their wits to make a difference. After all, Marchand is a testament to agitating players sometimes being their own worst enemies.

As Ryan Pike recently explained for Flames Nation, there was a time when Matthew Tkachuk made some dumb decisions that landed him on the Department of Player Safety’s rolodex,* yet there are signs that he’s learning how to pick his spots. Instead of engaging Zach Kassian in a fight during a rowdy Battle of Alberta, Matthew decided not to take the bait, ultimately putting the Oilers in the penalty box for three minors:

* – Come on, they probably still ride the train and use typewriters, right?

Even earlier in his career, Matthew Tkachuk was drawing far more penalties than he was taking, as you can see from Natural Stat Trick’s handy penalties drawn/taken numbers.

Brady hasn’t mastered that art yet, but there are already signs of an advanced hockey IQ. Like Matthew, he’s beginning his career with more defensive zone starts than shifts beginning in the attacking zone, a sign that he has two-way smarts and the trust of his coach. That trust has been justified in each case, as both Tkachuk brothers are puck possession monsters so far.

The younger Tkachuk brother also showed some great vision and awareness in identifying this loose puck before anyone else, starting a run of consecutive shifts with goals during Ottawa’s comeback win against the Flyers on Tuesday:

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The Tkachuk brothers seem to have the requisite “nose for the net” to score ugly goals, but let’s hope that they keep their mouthpieces in at key times. They don’t want to be like their father Keith, who apparently needed to transplant part of his hip bone during especially ghastly dental surgery after taking a puck to the face. Even trolls (probably) deserve better than that.

/gags

Again, it’s remarkable – and for opponents, unnerving – to realize how young these two are. Matthew’s proven to be a fantastic top-six forward, and he’s in the final year of his rookie deal at 20, setting the stage for a big raise. Brady, meanwhile, looks very much like a 19-year-old rookie, except when it comes to producing on the ice. If healthy, it’s tough to imagine Brady not at least being an honorable mention for the Calder.

Their great play might slip under the radar just a touch considering their struggling teams (Senators owner Eugene Melnyk is being compared to Larry David, after all), but opponents and opposing fan bases will find them both very difficult to ignore.

And stop.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.