ST. LOUIS — Matthew Tkachuk and Brady Tkachuk will compete against each other in the 2020 NHL All-Star Skills presented by New Amsterdam Vodka on Friday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).
In a new event called Gatorade NHL Shooting Stars, Matthew, a 22-year-old forward for the Calgary Flames, and Brady, a 20-year-old forward for the Ottawa Senators, will stand on an elevated platform behind a goal and shoot pucks over the fans at targets on the ice.
“It was our childhood,” Matthew said.
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The brothers grew up playing around inside this building, trying to beat each other (and beat each other up), when their dad, Keith, played for the St. Louis Blues from 2001-10.
They were on the ice together twice at skills competitions, when their dad played in the 2004 NHL All-Star Game in Minnesota and the 2009 NHL All-Star Game in Montreal.
The brothers might compete against each other again in the 2020 Honda NHL All-Star Game on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS) if the Pacific and Atlantic divisions play in the final of the 3-on-3 tournament.
“Honestly, I don’t think we’ve ever talked about this,” Brady said. “It’s just crazy how it’s worked out. I think Matthew and I are just going into it just to have as much fun as we can.”
Matthew and Brady was each born in Scottsdale, Arizona, while Keith played for the Phoenix Coyotes, but they spent their formative years in St. Louis. Matthew was 3 years old and Brady was 1 when the Coyotes traded their dad to the Blues on March 13, 2001.
Their dad would take them to the arena for practices and games. They’d play shinny, of course.
“We’ve scored millions of goals in that rink,” Matthew said.
They’d get physical, too.
“They were brawling in the room all the time,” former Blues defenseman Chris Pronger said with a laugh. “I remember one time Brady broke his finger and it didn’t even faze him.
“I looked down, and it’s crooked, and he kind of cried but not really. He was only like, 4 or 5 maybe. He sat in [Keith’s] locker and just kind of hung out, almost like he was taking a couple deep breaths and regrouping.”
A broken finger didn’t faze him? At 4 or 5 years old?
“I don’t remember the broken finger,” Brady said. “But I do remember the hit from behind into the couch.”
Matthew allegedly hit Brady in the wives’ room after a Blues win. Brady’s forehead hit the couch, and Keith had to take Brady to the Blues training staff for repairs.
“That’s the legendary story, I guess, that nobody’s going to forget,” Matthew said. “I’d like to forget it, but everyone always brings it up.”
They were their father’s sons, and it foreshadowed the players they became — hard-nosed guys who go to the hard areas.
“You could tell those two boys, from Day One, they loved the game,” former Blues defenseman Al MacInnis said. “They always had hockey sticks in their hands. They talked about hockey. They were students of the game as they were growing up. They would learn the history. They knew all the players.”
They loved NHL All-Star Weekend.
Matthew was 6 and Brady was 4 in Minnesota. A photo shows Keith kneeling on the ice in his Blues uniform, beaming at his boys sitting atop the boards in matching black shoes, black pants and green Western Conference jerseys.
Brady said he didn’t remember much from that one.
“Just a couple of wrestling matches,” Brady said.
Matthew was 11 and Brady was 9 in Montreal. A photo shows Keith standing on the bench in his Blues uniform, posing with his boys and his daughter, Taryn. The kids are wearing Western Conference jerseys with autographs on them.
“I just remember following around all the players,” Matthew said. “We looked up to my dad, but I think at something like that, we were more obsessed with guys like [Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane].
“I remember [Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin] was there and [Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin]. All these guys were there, and those were my favorite players growing up watching.
“And so I think that once we were able to be at the age where we were fans of the game and fans of these guys, that’s where we started to appreciate a lot. We got tons of pictures. My mom always made us take pictures.
“Yeah, it was fun to be a part of something like that, especially at the age where we could remember it.”
They will never forget this. Nor will their friends and family.
Each will make his NHL All-Star Game debut, at home, with players they grew up idolizing like Kane, with players who used to be teammates of their dad’s like Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and Capitals forward T.J. Oshie. They know the trainers. They know the security guards.
Their childhood has become their adulthood.
“It’s unbelievable, especially to do it in St. Louis, the place where they grew up,” Keith said. “It’s awesome.”
NHL.com Staff Writer Tom Gulitti contributed to this report