Brady Tkachuk is obviously the undisputed leader of the Ottawa Senators.
The boisterous 23-year-old leads the team in scoring, penalty minutes, shots, and game winning goals. Tkachuk also helps lead his teammates into battle every night, wearing the captain’s C on his shoulder and his heart on his sleeve.
And now Tkachuk will help lead the Atlantic Division at the 2023 NHL All-Star Game and skills competition in Sunrise, Florida, February 3-4.
Sens head coach D.J. Smith had teammate Shane Pinto make the announcement after practice on Thursday.
Tkachuk is clearly an excellent choice, but probably not the only option. Many observers felt like it might be Tim Stutzle’s time. Stutzle and Tkachuk are the only two Senators with over a point per game at the moment and Stutzle’s confidence and attention to detail get better every night. Claude Giroux, Drake Batherson and Alex DeBrincat would all be decent choices as well, with all three checking in at 36 points in 38 games.
There are still more openings for two skaters and a goalie, so there’s still a chance one of them could be added later this month.
Under the new format, the NHL selected one player from each team and announced the picks Thursday night. The three remaining players per division will be selected as part of a fan vote happening between now and January 17th.
The fan vote can often be entertaining. In 2016, the NHL turned the fans loose in voting and they gleefully stuffed the online ballot box to get NHL enforcer John Scott into the game.
This isn’t Brady Tkachuk’s first all-star rodeo. He was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team in 2019, then played in the actual All-Star tournaments in 2020 and 2022. He was a fill-in last year when Batherson suffered a high ankle sprain and missed his chance to go.
But this All-Star appearance will probably be the most special for Tkachuk, who finally gets to play on the same team as his brother, Matthew. At the moment, the Atlantic Division roster is now 25% filled with Tkachuks.
“Oh yeah. I think my mom’s the most excited,” said Tkachuk. “We got a lot of people coming in and it’s going to be exciting. I’m trying to think of a time where (Matthew and I) shared the ice together. I don’t think we have, not since we were two or three years old. So that’s going to be fun.”
With the game in Florida, Matthew will be hosting his brother and more than 20 other family members. The elder brother lives in Fort Lauderdale, not far from where the NHL All-Stars will be housed along the beach.
The Tkachuk brothers have vowed not to ever fight in a game, but their sibling rivalry has probably never been higher. As divisional opponents, their two teams are only one point apart in the division and the Tkachuks aren’t that far apart in scoring either. Matthew leads Brady in points 47-39 but his Panthers are going in the wrong direction, plummeting 23 places in the standings from last season. If you’d told the average Senators fan their team would be one point ahead of the reigning President’s Trophy champions, they’d have taken that all day long. And it only adds to the Tkachuk feistiness.
But for a couple of nights in February, mom can relax, her boys can relax, and they can finally play nice for a change.