Keith Tkachuk
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Keith Tkachuk
Keith Tkachuk
Keith Tkachuk.jpg
Tkachuk with the St. Louis Blues in 2008
Born (1972-03-28) March 28, 1972 (age 49)
Melrose, Massachusetts, U.S.
Height 6 ft 2 in (188 cm)
Weight 235 lb (107 kg; 16 st 11 lb)
Position Left wing
Shot Left
Played for Winnipeg Jets
Phoenix Coyotes
St. Louis Blues
Atlanta Thrashers
National team  United States
NHL Draft 19th overall, 1990
Winnipeg Jets
Playing career 1991–2010

Keith Matthew Tkachuk (; born March 28, 1972) is an American former professional ice hockey player who played in the National Hockey League (NHL) in a 18-year career with the Winnipeg Jets, Phoenix Coyotes, St. Louis Blues and Atlanta Thrashers, retiring in 2010.[1][2] His sons Matthew and Brady play for the Calgary Flames and the Ottawa Senators, respectively. He is one of five American-born players to score 500 goals, and is the sixth American player to score 1,000 points. He is considered to be one of the greatest U.S.-born players in NHL history.

Playing career

Early career/background

Tkachuk, from East Boston originally, was born at the Melrose/Wakefield Hospital in Melrose, Massachusetts, and played high school hockey at Malden Catholic High School in Malden, Massachusetts.[3] Tkachuk played one season of collegiate hockey at Boston University, was a member of the United States national junior team in 1991 and 1992 and a member of Team USA in 1992.[4] He was drafted in the first round, 19th overall, in the 1990 NHL Entry Draft by the Winnipeg Jets, who acquired the pick from the Buffalo Sabres in the deal that sent Dale Hawerchuk to Buffalo.[1] Tkachuk played as a center, left winger and right winger in his career.

Tkachuk has earned the nickname "Walt" (given to him by Eddie Olczyk), possibly in reference to Walter Tkaczuk, a star center who played for the New York Rangers from 1967 to 1981. The two players' last names are pronounced similarly but spelled differently (being the Polish and English transliterations, respectively, of the Ukrainian ""), and the two men are not related to each other. With his strong play in front of the net, using his size and strength to battle opposing defensemen, St. Louis Blues broadcasters and fans dubbed Tkachuk "Big Walt."[]

Winnipeg Jets (1992-1996)

Only days after the end of the 1992 Winter Olympics, Tkachuk made his NHL debut on February 28, 1992, against the Vancouver Canucks, where he tallied an assist. He would finish the season playing with the Jets, scoring eight points in 17 games. In the Stanley Cup playoffs that year, he scored three goals in seven games. The following season, 1992-93, was Tkachuk's official rookie year. He appeared in 83 games and ended the season with 28 goals and 51 points, including a 12-game scoring streak from March 9 to April 3, 1993.

Tkachuk became the team captain the next season on November 3, 1993, two weeks after recording his first hat-trick, against the Philadelphia Flyers. Some of his accomplishments from that season include leading the Jets in goals (41), points (81) and power-play goals (22). The 1994-95 season, which was shortened by a labor lockout, saw Tkachuk earn all-star second-team honors, as well as being second on the Jets in points scored.

At the start of 1995-96 season, Tkachuk, a restricted free agent at the time, signed a lucrative, front-loaded five-year offer sheet worth $17 million, with $6 million coming in the first season from the Chicago Blackhawks.[5] Despite the Jets' impending relocation to Phoenix, Arizona, and the organization's poor financial situation, the Jets matched the offer-sheet within six hours. As a result, Tkachuk was stripped of the captaincy and replaced by Kris King; nonetheless, he set a career-high 50 goals and 98 points, the closest he ever came to reaching the 100-point plateau. Tkachuk also led the Jets in power play goals (20), game-winning goals (6), shots (249) and plus-minus rating (+11).[6]

Going up against the Presidents' Trophy-winning Detroit Red Wings, the Jets lost in six games, with Tkachuk scoring a goal and two assists in the series. After losing Game 6 by a score of 4-1, the final Jets game in the city of Winnipeg before relocating to Phoenix, Tkachuk led the Jets in a final skate around Winnipeg Arena in appreciation of the fans.[7]

Phoenix Coyotes (1996-2001)

The Jets relocated to Phoenix, Arizona, in 1996, where Tkachuk became a member of the newly formed Phoenix Coyotes and was renamed captain, replacing Kris King. It was with Phoenix during the 1996-97 season that he had his career-best 52 goals, and made his first appearance in the NHL All-Star Game. He also led the team in goals, points, power-play goals, game-winning goals and shots for the 1997-98 season, earning him his second-straight All-Star appearance. For the 1998-99 season, Tkachuk led the team in goals, power-play goals, game-winning goals, shots and plus-minus, and again was named to the All-Star Game. In 1997, Tkachuk appeared on the front cover of the video game NHL Breakaway '98.

After struggling with injuries for the next two seasons, the Coyotes traded Tkachuk to the St. Louis Blues in 2001 in exchange for Ladislav Nagy, Michal Handzu?, Jeff Taffe and a first-round draft pick (Ben Eager), where he was re-united with former teammate Dallas Drake, who had signed a free agent deal with the Blues in the summer of 2000.[8] Tkachuk would leave the team ranking second in all-time goals (323) and first in penalty minutes (1,508), among other records.

St. Louis Blues (2001-2007)

Tkachuk during a game with the Blues in 2008.

Tkachuk made an immediate impact on the Blues, scoring six goals and eight points in the final 12 games of the 2000-01 season. The Blues made it to the Western Conference Final in the playoffs that season, ultimately losing to the Colorado Avalanche, the eventual 2001 Stanley Cup champions. Tkachuk experienced several injuries while playing with the Blues, and was briefly suspended by the team when he reported to training camp overweight, failing his physical at the beginning of the 2005-06 season.[9]

Atlanta Thrashers (2007)

On February 25, 2007, Tkachuk was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers in exchange for Glen Metropolit, a first-round pick in 2007, a third-round pick in 2007 and a second-round pick in 2008. Tkachuk's brief stint in Atlanta gave him the distinction of being one of five players who suited up for both the "old" Winnipeg Jets and the team that became the "new" Winnipeg Jets in 2011. The others were Mike Stapleton, Darryl Shannon, Nelson Emerson and Scott Langkow.

Return to St. Louis (2007-2010)

On June 26 of the same year, St. Louis reacquired Tkachuk, along with a conditional fourth-round draft pick, in exchange for a conditional first-round pick in 2008. (If Tkachuk had re-signed with the Thrashers, the Blues would have acquired Atlanta's first-round pick in 2008.) Since the Blues acquired exclusive negotiating rights with Tkachuk and re-signed him to a two-year deal, Atlanta received a conditional fourth-round pick in 2008.[10] Tkachuk signed a new, two-year contract with the Blues for $8 million on June 30. Upon re-signing, Tkachuk said of the Blues, "I see a lot of good things happening... They're going to be very active in making this a better hockey team."[11] To help prove the Blues would be better, after signing Tkachuk, they signed left winger Paul Kariya. Blues Head Coach Andy Murray announced that he would try a line where Tkachuk would be centering Kariya on left wing and Brad Boyes on the right.[12]

On the last day of the 2007-08 regular season, April 6, Tkachuk scored his 500th NHL goal, a milestone only three other American-born players have achieved, as well as the 41st player to reach the milestone in NHL history.[13]

On November 30, 2008, Tkachuk scored goal number 511, giving him 1,000 NHL points for his career. He became only the sixth American, and 72nd overall, to achieve that milestone; it came in his 1,077th NHL game. He signed a one-year contract extension with the Blues on June 19, 2009.[14] On April 7, 2010, Tkachuk announced that he would be retiring from hockey at the conclusion of the 2009-10 season.[15] He played his final NHL game two nights later on April 9, 2010.

Style of play

One of the elite power forwards of his era, Tkachuk was known for his aggressive, physical style while consistently scoring points. Tkachuk had more than 100 penalty minutes in 10 of his 19 NHL seasons, including three seasons with over 200 penalty minutes. Tkachuk was known for his goal-scoring prowess, scoring 30 goals eight times, including two 40-goal seasons and two back-to-back 50 goal seasons, the latter of which he led the NHL in goals, with 52.

Personal life

Tkachuk has been married to Chantal Oster, whom he met in Winnipeg, since February 28, 1997, and has three children -- Matthew, Brady and Taryn. He is still a fan favorite in St. Louis and is an investor in sports talk radio station KFNS (590 AM, St. Louis MO).[] He is an assistant coach with the St. Louis Blues Peewee AAA hockey team.[4]

Tkachuk is Irish on his mother's side, and is cousin to New Jersey Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald, with whom he grew up.[] When asked about the derivation of his Ukrainian surname, Tkachuk was unsure, suggesting it could either be "Polish, Russian, [or] Ukrainian, one of those."[16] He is also cousins with brothers Jimmy and Kevin Hayes,[] the latter being a player for the Philadelphia Flyers, and the former, an unrestricted free agent.

Select milestones

Records

Tkachuk led the NHL in goals during the 1996-97 season with 52, the first American-born player to do so.[17] That season he was also only the fourth player in NHL history to record 50 goals and 200 penalty minutes in a single season.

Other records:

  • Arizona Coyotes #2 franchise record for career game-winning goals (40)[]
  • Arizona Coyotes franchise record for career penalty minutes (1,508)[]

Career statistics

Regular season and playoffs

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1988-89 Malden Catholic High School HS-MA 21 30 16 46 -- -- -- -- -- --
1989-90 Malden Catholic High School HS-MA 6 12 14 26 -- -- -- -- -- --
1990-91 Boston University HE 36 17 23 40 70 -- -- -- -- --
1991-92 United States Intl 45 10 10 20 141 -- -- -- -- --
1991-92 Winnipeg Jets NHL 17 3 5 8 28 7 3 0 3 30
1992-93 Winnipeg Jets NHL 83 28 23 51 201 6 4 0 4 14
1993-94 Winnipeg Jets NHL 84 41 40 81 255 -- -- -- -- --
1994-95 Winnipeg Jets NHL 48 22 29 51 152 -- -- -- -- --
1995-96 Winnipeg Jets NHL 76 50 48 98 156 6 1 2 3 22
1996-97 Phoenix Coyotes NHL 81 52 34 86 228 7 6 0 6 7
1997-98 Phoenix Coyotes NHL 69 40 26 66 147 6 3 3 6 10
1998-99 Phoenix Coyotes NHL 68 36 32 68 151 7 1 3 4 13
1999-2000 Phoenix Coyotes NHL 50 22 21 43 82 5 1 1 2 4
2000-01 Phoenix Coyotes NHL 64 29 42 71 108 -- -- -- -- --
2000-01 St. Louis Blues NHL 12 6 2 8 14 15 2 7 9 20
2001-02 St. Louis Blues NHL 73 38 37 75 117 10 5 5 10 18
2002-03 St. Louis Blues NHL 56 31 24 55 139 7 1 3 4 14
2003-04 St. Louis Blues NHL 75 33 38 71 83 5 0 2 2 10
2005-06 St. Louis Blues NHL 41 15 21 36 46 -- -- -- -- --
2006-07 St. Louis Blues NHL 61 20 23 43 92 -- -- -- -- --
2006-07 Atlanta Thrashers NHL 18 7 8 15 34 4 1 2 3 12
2007-08 St. Louis Blues NHL 79 27 31 58 69 -- -- -- -- --
2008-09 St. Louis Blues NHL 79 25 24 49 61 4 0 0 0 2
2009-10 St. Louis Blues NHL 67 13 19 32 56 -- -- -- -- --
NHL totals 1,201 538 527 1065 2219 89 28 28 56 176

International

Year Team Event   GP G A Pts PIM
1991 United States WJC 7 6 3 9 12
1992 United States WJC 7 3 4 7 6
1992 United States OG 8 1 1 2 12
1996 United States WCH 7 5 1 6 44
1998 United States OG 4 0 2 2 6
2002 United States OG 5 2 0 2 2
2004 United States WCH 5 5 1 6 23
2006 United States OG 6 0 0 0 8
Junior totals 14 9 7 16 18
Senior totals 35 13 5 18 85

Awards and honors

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "Keith Tkachuck Player Card". ESPN.com. Retrieved .
  2. ^ "Blues looking to sing a different tune this season". nhl.com. Retrieved .[dead link]
  3. ^ "Keith Tkachuk". Hockey-reference.com. Retrieved .
  4. ^ a b "Biography for Keith Tkachuk". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved .
  5. ^ Markus, Robert (October 4, 1995). "Hawks' Plan Jettisoned". Chicago Tribune.
  6. ^ "NHLPA Player Bio". NHLPA. Archived from the original on 2007-02-07. Retrieved .
  7. ^ "Jets final game in Winnipeg". YouTube. 2010-02-03. Retrieved .
  8. ^ "Keith Tkachuk Player Bio". The Sports Network (Canada). Archived from the original on 2007-01-01. Retrieved .
  9. ^ "Leaner Tkachuk ready to prove doubters wrong". ESPN.com. Retrieved .
  10. ^ "Blues re-acquire Tkachuk from Thrashers". STLtoday. 2007-06-26. Archived from the original on 2007-06-29. Retrieved .
  11. ^ "Tkachuk inks deal with Blues". Tsn.ca The Sports Network. Archived from the original on 2007-07-03. Retrieved .
  12. ^ "Blues looking to sing a different tune this season". nhl.com. Retrieved .[dead link]
  13. ^ Chris Pinkert (2008-04-06). "For Tkachuk, Milestones Keep Piling Up: Blues power forward scores 500th career goal Sunday at Columbus". St. Louis Blues. Archived from the original on 2009-02-20. Retrieved .
  14. ^ "Blues, Tkachuk agree to one more year". The Sports Network. 2009-06-19. Retrieved .
  15. ^ "Tkachuk to retire at end of season". St. Louis Blues. 2010-04-07. Retrieved .
  16. ^ "Athlete profile: Keith Tkachuk". 3 February 1998. CNN / Sports Illustrated. February 3, 1998. Retrieved 2011.
  17. ^ "Blues decide to retain Tkachuk". Associated Press. Retrieved .
  18. ^ "Keith Tkachuk - Hall of Fame". USA Hockey. 2014-05-16. Retrieved .

External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Stu Barnes
Winnipeg Jets first round draft pick
1990
Succeeded by
Aaron Ward
Preceded by
Dean Kennedy
Winnipeg Jets captain
1993-95
Succeeded by
Kris King
Preceded by
Original
Winnipeg Jets captains
Kris King
Phoenix Coyotes captain
1996-2001
Succeeded by
Teppo Numminen
Preceded by
Mario Lemieux
NHL goal leader
1997
Succeeded by
Peter Bondra and Teemu Selänne

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