When the National Hockey League announced that the 2019-20 all-star game was headed for St. Louis, of course, the Tkachuk family was confident.
There are no guarantees about who ends up participating in the annual showcase. Many things can happen over the course of a season, and an invitation is based on more than just performing on ice.
So, when it was announced just last week that Chantal Tkachuk’s youngest son (and middle son), Brady, would join his eldest son Matthew during this weekend’s all-star parties in their backyard – a an event they had brought to their children several times during Keith’s career in acting – mom was understandably thrilled.
“For both of them (Matthew and Brady), it was a personal goal and it was something they hoped they could both be here,” said Chantal, calling earlier this week before her home began to fill up for the weekend festivities.
Matthew, 22, who is 38 points in a draw, was part of the original selection process, joining goalkeeper David Rittich and captain and defender Mark Giordano as representatives of the Flames in the game. Brady, a 20-year-old left wing seen as a key to the future of Ottawa senators, was a last-minute addition when Toronto Maple Leafs’ Auston Matthews retired due to a sore wrist.
“We haven’t really talked about it. But I think it was the elephant in the room,” Chantal said of the way everything worked. “Everyone knew it was in St. Louis and everyone hoped they would (both) get a chance. to do it.
“Mainly because it will be the only time in their career that they will be here.”
The Enterprise Center was so popular with the Tkachuk family that it could be considered one of their second homes. It was the place where they grew up watching their dad skate when he was a member of the Blues in the early 2000s almost until his retirement in 2010.
That meaning is not lost on anyone.
Keith represented the Phoenix Coyotes three times in the NHL all-star game and did so twice as a member of the St. Louis Blues.
“You can pursue a whole career and not do everything like that (for the Tkachuk family),” said Flames general manager Brad Treliving. “So I think this will surely be one of those when (Matthew) rethinks the end of his career, it will be one of those truly fantastic moments.
“It is very deserving. For me, it continues to make progress and has this year again. It is so important to us.”
Among Matthew and Brady’s upcoming friends, their family and friends – in addition to all the NHL commitments, the ex-student meetings and their own party that they will host on Saturday night – this weekend will not be like those they have ever lived in Keith’s day.
“Obviously, it is such an honor and so special to have it in St. Louis and in our city,” said Chantal. “It makes it much more special for Matthew, Brady and our family. It will be at the track they grew up on, always going to watch their dad and skate.
“We are able to include many other people in the celebration because it is in St. Louis. It makes it very special for all of us … your first one is quite nice.”
Chantal has a hard time remembering the first appearance of a Keith all-star in 1997 in San Jose. Matthew was born later that year in December.
But he is happy to be able to provide photographic evidence of his brood during other events – Matthew as a child in 1999 with the Tampa Bay Lightning mascot; in 2004 in Minnesota, just in elementary school, sitting on Chris Pronger’s lap; and in 2007 in Dallas, when the two boys and younger sister Taryn were between a kneeling Dustin Brown and Jarome Iginla on the ice.
“My wife is crazy when it comes to these things – she takes pictures of us,” Keith said with a chuckle. “I don’t know what we did with all the pictures of his bedroom, but he has so many. The last game at all the stars I played was Montreal and (Matthew) was able to take pictures with ( Jonathan) Toews and (Patrick) Kane and his opponents.
“So it’s strange when you look at him. He was a kid looking for autographs. Now he’s out there pissing them off.”
Maybe not this weekend though.
“It’s a fun event,” said Chantal. “And it’s fun to see players having fun and meeting with people from other teams or reconnecting with guys they’ve known during their career.
“For someone like Matthew, many of these kids were his growing idols. For him, playing with them in something like this is incredibly special. “
Keith is also pumped.
“This is the track he grew up going and skating on, sitting on the bench, watching the practice,” he said. “I think he’s more pumped for us. But for me, he manages to play with guys he normally can’t play in a fantastic environment.
“You are considered one of the best players in the league for having one of the best years. I am happy for him. He worked hard to get it and it is an advantage to do it in his city.”
Both Tkachuk brothers are preparing to participate in the NHL Shooting Stars competition. They are two of eight NHL all-stars and one each member of the Canadian and American elite female all-star team who will be positioned on an elevated platform behind the lens, approximately 30 feet above the ice surface. From there, discs will fire at a variety of targets located on the ice, with each target having different point values. Each player will try seven hits and score points for each target hit. . . Matthew and Brady will join David Pastrnak from Boston, Patrick Kane from Chicago, Dallas Stars forward Tyler Seguin, Blues forward Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron and Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner. . . Captain Flames Mark Giordano will participate in the NHL Hardest Shot competition. . . Netminder David Rittich will debut in NHL’s Save Streak, a massive shootout grouped by division in which goalkeepers will compete to make the most consecutive bailouts. Each goalkeeper will face an opposing division and a minimum of nine scoring attempts.