ST. LOUIS — There's nothing St. Louis loves more than one of our own performing on the big stage.
Well, the big stage just happens to be in our own backyard this weekend, and one of our own will be taking the spotlight. Flames' forward Matthew Tkachuk has been waiting for this moment since he was a kid.
Tkachuk, the son of former Blue Keith Tkachuk, is about to play in his first NHL All-Star Game, which coincidentally is taking place in his hometown of St. Louis.
Tkachuk stopped by his alma mater of Chaminade on Wednesday, for the first leg in his hometown tour.
"I walked the same hallways as these guys, and it's so fun coming back and seeing the kids," Tkachuk said. "I think the all-star game and just hockey in general is starting to grow (in St. Louis)."
The 22-year-old star is bunking at mom and dad's place right now, but once the rest of the Tkachuk clan arrives, Matthew is headed to the hotel.
"I've got grandparents coming in and my brother's coming back into town. But I'd rather have it that way though," Tkachuk said. "So many people are coming into town, so I'm staying at the hotel when all-star weekend comes. We're going to have a whole crew here."
Speaking of a whole crew, Matthew said he's footing the bill for the box at Enterprise Center for Friday and Saturday night, to make sure all the Tkachuks get to see his big moment.
"This one was on me. Just kind of my way of wanting everyone to be in one place to watch me," Tkachuk said. "I didn't want to make my parents do that. This is my weekend and I want them to be able to enjoy everything."
Matthew has been thinking about this weekend for a while, and even brought it up to his family when it was announced that St. Louis would be playing host.
"I remember talking to my parents about how cool it would be to have a great start and be fortunate enough to make the game," Tkachuk said. "Throughout the first half I wasn't thinking about that. You don't want to have that in the back of your head. You want to go out and do the best for your team..."
A Blues fan growing up, many of Tkachuk's favorite players as a kid will now be his teammates in the all-star game.
"I looked at guys like Oshie and Perron and Pietrangelo who were young stars at the time taking the league by storm in their early twenties, and that's what I wanted to be," Tkachuk said.
Tkachuk is embracing his role as the "hometown hero" this all-star weekend, and is excited to get the chance to show what he can do in front of everyone that has helped get him to this point.
"Whether it's old people that I played hockey with, or classmates, or teachers, or friends, or neighbors, everyone gets to see me in my hometown at my early early age playing in the premier event in hockey and I think that's so cool," Tkachuk said.