Keith Tkachuk

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Keith Tkachuk
Keith Tkachuk.jpg
Born (1972-03-28) March 28, 1972 (age 42)
Melrose, MA, USA
Height 6 ft 2 in (188 cm)
Weight 244 lb (111 kg; 17 st 6 lb)
Position Forward
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 (/kəˈʌk/; born March 28, 1972) is a retired American professional ice hockey player who played for four teams and three franchises in his 19-year career.[1][2] He is one of only four American-born players to score 500 goals, and is the sixth American player to score 1,000 points and is considered to be one of the greatest US-born players in NHL history.

Playing career[edit]

Tkachuk began his hockey career at Malden Catholic High School in Malden, Massachusetts.[citation needed] Tkachuk played collegiate hockey at Boston University, was a member of the U.S. National Junior team in 1991 and 1992, and a member of the U.S. Olympic team in 1992.[3] He was drafted in the first round (19th overall) in the 1990 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 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, and the two men are not related to each other. With his great 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)[edit]

Only days after the end of the Olympics, Tkachuk made his NHL debut on February 28, 1992, against the Vancouver Canucks and tallied an assist. He would finish the season with the Jets, getting eight points in 17 games. In the 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 lockout, saw Tkachuk earn all-star second-team honors, as well as being second on the team in points.

In the 1995–96 season, Tkachuk dominated the Jets' statistics finishing first in goals (50), assists (48), points (98), power play goals (20), game-winning goals (6), shots (249), and plus/minus (+11).[4]

At the start of 1995-1996 NHL season, Tkachuk, a restricted free agent at the time, signed a massive front-loaded five-year offer sheet worth $17-million with $6-million coming in the first season from the Chicago Blackhawks.[5] Despite the Jet's impending relocation to Phoenix, Arizona and 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 got to the 100 point plateau. Tkachuk was renamed captain of the team in their final playoff game due to an injury to Kris King. Going up against the President's Trophy winning Detroit Red Wings, the Jets lost in 6 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 Winnipeg before relocating to Phoenix, Tkachuk led the Jets in a final skate around Winnipeg Arena in appreciation of the fans.[6]

Phoenix Coyotes (1996–2001)[edit]

The Jets moved to Phoenix, Arizona, in 1996, where Tkachuk became a member of the new Phoenix Coyotes. It was with Phoenix during the 1996–97 season that he has 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 went to the All-Star game. In 1997, Tkachuk was on the cover of the video game NHL Breakaway '98.

After struggling with injuries for the next two seasons, the Coyotes traded Tkachuk to the Blues in 2001 for Ladislav Nagy, Michal Handzus, Jeff Taffe and a 1st round selection (Ben Eager), where he was re-united with Dallas Drake, who had signed a free agent deal with the Blues in the summer of 2000.[7] He would leave the team ranking second in all-time goals (323) and first in penalty minutes (1,508) among other records.

St. Louis Blues (2001–2006)[edit]

Tkachuk during a game 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, losing to the Colorado Avalanche, the eventual 2001 Stanley Cup champions. He has experienced several injuries while with the Blues, and was briefly suspended when he reported to training camp overweight and failed his physical at the beginning of the 2005–06 season.[8]

Brief Atlanta Thrashers stint[edit]

On February 25, 2007, Tkachuk was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers for Glen Metropolit, a 1st round pick in 2007, a 3rd round pick in 2007 and a 2nd round pick in 2008.

Return to St. Louis Blues (2007–2011)[edit]

On June 26 of the same year, St. Louis reacquired Tkachuk along with a conditional 4th round draft pick for a conditional first round pick in 2008. If Tkachuk had re-signed with the Thrashers, the Blues would have had Atlanta's 1st 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 4th round pick in 2008.[9] Tkachuk signed a new, two-year contract with the Blues for $8 million on June 30. Upon re-signing, Tkachuk said of the Blues that "I see a lot of good things happening... They're going to be very active in making this a better hockey team."[10] To help prove the Blues would be better, after signing Tkachuk they signed left winger Paul Kariya. Coach Andy Murray announced that he would try a line where Tkachuk would be centering Kariya on left wing and Brad Boyes on right.[11]

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, and the 41st overall in NHL history.[12]

On November 30, 2008, Tkachuk scored goal number 511, giving him 1,000 NHL points for his career. He becomes 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 with the Blues on June 19, 2009.[13] On April 7, 2010, Tkachuk announced that he would be retiring from hockey at the conclusion of the 2009–10 season.[14] He played his final NHL game two nights later on April 9, 2010.

Style of play[edit]

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 league in goals with 52.[15]

Personal life[edit]

Tkachuk has been married to Chantal Oster, whom he met in Winnipeg since February 28, 1997, and has three children, named Matthew, Braeden, 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, his son Braeden plays on the team[3]

Tkachuk is Irish on his mother's side, and is cousin to NHL player Tom Fitzgerald, with whom he grew up. When asked about the derivation of his surname, Tkachuk was unsure, suggesting it could either be "Polish, Russian, [or] Ukrainian, one of those."[16] He is also cousin with the Chicago Blackhawks prospect, Kevin Hayes.

Awards and honors[edit]

Award Year
All-Hockey East Rookie Team 1990–91

Select milestones[edit]

Records[edit]

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:

  • Phoenix Coyotes franchise record for career game-winning goals (40)
  • Phoenix Coyotes franchise record for career penalty minutes (1,508)

Career statistics[edit]

Regular season and playoffs[edit]

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1990–91 Boston U. Terriers HE 36 17 23 40 70
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
1999–00 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 1,065 2,219 89 28 28 56 176

International[edit]

Medal record
Competitor for  United States
Ice hockey
Winter Olympics
Silver 2002 Salt Lake City
World Cup
Gold 1996 North America
World Junior Championships
Bronze 1992 Kaufbeuren
Year Team Comp 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 int'l totals 14 9 7 16 18
Senior int'l totals 35 13 5 18 85

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Keith Tkachuck Player Card". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2007-01-17. 
  2. ^ "Blues looking to sing a different tune this season". nhl.com. Archived from the original on 2007-10-22. Retrieved 2007-07-05. 
  3. ^ a b "Biography for Keith Tkachuk". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2007-01-18. 
  4. ^ "NHLPA Player Bio". NHLPA. Retrieved 2007-01-17. 
  5. ^ Markus, Robert (October 4, 1995). "Hawks' Plan Jettisoned". Chicago Tribune. 
  6. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61DQc_szzFg
  7. ^ "Keith Tkachuk Player Bio". The Sports Network (Canada). Retrieved 2007-01-17. 
  8. ^ "Leaner Tkachuk ready to prove doubters wrong". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2007-01-18. 
  9. ^ http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/sports/stories.nsf/blues/story/3D00FE74A9AF6C188625730700114292?OpenDocument
  10. ^ "Tkachuk inks deal with Blues". Tsn.ca The Sports Network. Archived from the original on 2007-07-03. Retrieved 2007-07-01. 
  11. ^ "Blues looking to sing a different tune this season". nhl.com. Archived from the original on 2007-10-22. Retrieved 2007-07-05. 
  12. ^ Chris Pinkert (2008-04-06). "For Tkachuk, Milestones Keep Piling Up: Blues power forward scores 500th career goal Sunday at Columbus". St. Louis Blues. Retrieved 2008-04-07. 
  13. ^ http://tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=282339
  14. ^ http://blues.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=524403&cmpid=stl-twt-040710
  15. ^ http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php?pid=5414
  16. ^ "Athlete profile: Keith Tkachuk". 3 February 1998 (CNN / Sports Illustrated). February 3, 1998. Retrieved 4 October 2011. 
  17. ^ "Blues decide to retain Tkachuk". Associated Press. Retrieved 2007-01-17. 

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Stu Barnes
Winnipeg Jets first round draft pick
1990
Succeeded by
Aaron Ward
Preceded by
Dean Kennedy
Winnipeg Jets captain
199395
Succeeded by
Kris King
Preceded by
Original
Winnipeg Jets captains
Kris King
Phoenix Coyotes captain
19962001
Succeeded by
Teppo Numminen
Preceded by
Mario Lemieux
NHL goal leader
1997
Succeeded by
Peter Bondra and Teemu Selänne