ST. LOUIS — Of all the great storylines that have presented themselves this all-star weekend, the Tkachuks take the cake. A former St. Louis Blues great's two sons coming back to their hometown to play in their first All-Star Game? I mean, it doesn't get better than that.
Just 10 years ago, Matthew and Brady Tkachuk were just little tykes following around their All-Star dad as his NHL career wound down. On Friday night, they'll step onto the ice at Enterprise Center for the skills challenge, as All-Stars themselves.
"It's pretty exciting. Both boys have played well, but to be able to do this in your hometown, we're ecstatic," Keith said. "This is where they grew up watching the Blues and to be a part of this, it's history for us. This is great for our family."
Originally, it was just Matthew heading to St. Louis as an All-Star, with the Calgary Flames. And that was cool enough in itself. Then, Toronto Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews was forced to miss the game with an injury, opening up a spot for the younger Tkachuk.
"I actually gave him (Brady) the heads up," Keith said. "He was in the Bahamas, so he was having a little bit of fun. I got the heads up yesterday (Wednesday) that it might happen. So I waited until the GM of Ottawa contacted myself and Brady's agent and we couldn't get a hold of him, and he did and he was pumped."
Brady had already planned on coming back for the game to support Matthew, but was more than happy to cut his Bahamas vacation a bit short to be an All-Star himself.
"I can't even tell you the emotion, I just immediately thought of sharing this with Matthew, and in front of the parents and my sister as well, it was just super surreal," Brady said.
For both Tkachuk boys, the experience has already been surreal, before it's even started. But if you ask both of them, they never even thought a moment like this would be possible.
"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," Matthew 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..."
"Honestly I don't think we've ever talked about this. It's just crazy how it worked out," Brady said. "I think Matthew and I are just going into it looking to have as much fun as we can. And to get to go home and see friends and family, it's going to be a lot of fun."
That's maybe the coolest part. Not only are Matthew and Brady sons of a Blues legend, they actually grew up here. The rooted for the Blues, they went to Chaminade and they have relationships with people all over the area.
Even current Blue David Perron and former Blue T.J. Oshie told some stories from back in the day of when the Tkachuk kids used to get into rambunctious wrestling matches in the side rooms of the then Scottrade Center.
"They were running around in the room quite a bit when they were 7,8, 9 and 10 years old. I just had a good feeling about them, the way they handled themselves... I went to their house quite a bit and we played floor hockey," Perron said.
"I went to the All-Star game in '09 as a second-year guy on the same flight as 'Big Walt' and his family, and that was funny. Here's a guy who had over 1,200 games, 1,000 points, and 500 goals and you thought he was playing his first game the way his kids were treating him. They were chirping back and forth. That's when I knew those guys would have success. They're not afraid of anything."
"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 age playing in the premier event in hockey and I think that's so cool," Matthew said.
The boys are taking care of the family and friends this weekend, too. They're making sure everyone they can bring along will be able to see them on Friday and Saturday nights, by getting a whole suite at Enterprise Center.
"This one was on me. Just kind of my way of wanting everyone to be in one place to watch me," Matthew said. "I didn't want to make my parents do that (buy the suite). This is my weekend and I want them to be able to enjoy everything."
Matthew told us that before it was announced that Brady would be joining him as an all-star. Keith said now that both boys are going to be starring, Matthew might be looking for a contribution from his younger brother
"He's (Matthew) off scholarship (mom and dad's checkbook) now he's trying to get his brother to pitch in half," Keith said. "But we're just going to have a blast."