At 22, Brady Tkachuk has become the youngest-ever Captain in Sens franchise history. At such a pivotal time in the team’s development, Brady, who has just signed a 7-year, 57.5 million dollar deal, has big shoes to fill.
But the 6’4 left-winger also has years of exposure to great hockey leaders. He’s grown up in the NHL, watching his dad, Keith, play for the Blues. It was always about hockey when it came to the Tkachuk family.
It’s all he knows, says Tkachuk, whose hobbies off the rink don’t seem to stray too far from the sport. He’s not one to care too much for fashion, nor does he have expensive taste, opting for crocs and sweatpants when he can. In his downtime, video games are his choice of entertainment. And his favourite? NHL.
It’s the qualities you could only hope for in a captain: focused, passionate, and modest. What he lacks in experience, he makes up for in work ethic – a drive that has placed him among the top young players in the NHL today.
Sitting down for an interview, Brady is authentic, thoughtful, and relaxed. He wears Dior sneakers to match a stylish bomber jacket, an outfit that is quickly credited to his girlfriend’s stylish eye. He dives easily into questions about his lengthy contract negotiations and his goals for the team. It’s the personal questions that make him think or laugh at himself.
He jokes about his resemblance to Will Ferrel, his shortcomings in fashion, and his sweet tooth. He’s relatable and humble with a self-deprecating sense of humour, something that seems at odds with the fact that he’s a 2-time NHL All-Star with one of the biggest contracts in Sens franchise history.
He is someone who is equally as great a teammate as he will be a leader, and exactly what the franchise needs in the years to come.
Photography by Sean Sisk, Furniture from Lux Rentals
What was it like growing up in rinks, watching your dad play hockey?
It was pretty cool. I got to meet a lot of great people and see how he interacted with everybody, which taught my brother and I a lot. There were many great people we looked up to; one guy, in particular, was Barret Jackman. He’s a former player that lives in St. Louis, and now we sometimes go and watch his kid play hockey, so it comes full circle. It’s cool to get to meet and become friends with guys like that.
How much have you been able to lean on your dad for advice throughout your hockey career?
I’ve definitely leaned on him heavily this year because of the added responsibility. He’s been a captain before, so I’ve gotten a lot of advice from him.
Your brother Matt plays for the Calgary Flames, and your sister Taryn plays field hockey at the University of Virginia. How much hockey did you three play growing up?
Every day after school. We would put the rollerblades on, go on our driveway, and we had two nets set up. We had a pretty big driveway, so there was plenty of room to skate out there. It was always my sister and I versus Matt. We lost a lot, but we had a ton of fun.
You were best friends with Josh Norris before either of you were in the Sens organization. What’s it like to be teammates now and have him as your centre?
I think he had mixed feelings about being traded, because he had just been drafted to the Sharks. I think once he processed the emotions, he realized how cool it was. You don’t get to play with your best friend often and on the same line, as well.
We’ve had a lot of fun. I think what’s been great about us is how much we pushed each other on and off the ice over the years, and we’re still pushing each other now. And we’re making great memories.
What do you like so much about this Ottawa Senators team?
I think everyone knows how much fun we have, on and away from the rink. We’re always so close and hanging out with one another, whether it’s here or on the road; I love the closeness that we have.
It’s going to be exciting for the next couple of years when we’re all together, and we continue to get better. I think we’re entertaining to watch. We have a lot of different skillsets within our group. Down the road, it’s going to be fun for us and for the fans to come to watch and rally around us.
Last year, you lived with Josh Norris and Tim Stützle. How much fun was that for you three?
It was great, especially with nothing open and not being able to do anything. It was nice always having someone at the house to hang out with. There are a lot of great memories we got to share throughout that challenging year. We had fun, kept each other busy, had a lot of laughs and watched plenty of TV together.
Last September, you got a taste of the business side during your contract negotiations. What was that like? How hard was it to miss training camp and not be in the lineup on opening night?
It’s a business, but I was lucky to have my dad, brother, and my uncle, who’s my agent, help me through it; I trust all of them with their advice. The whole process was my decision, and it was tough because I wanted to be with my teammates.
At the start of training camp, there’s so much excitement to be with the guys again, hanging out, doing things away from the rink like team bonding and being on the ice.
It stunk not being with the guys, but at the end of the day, it’s part of the business. I tried doing the best I could at the U.S. program in Plymouth, Michigan, with those guys. I wanted to make it a training camp, and those guys pushed me pretty hard. Honestly, it stunk being there, but that was a huge honour for the U.S. program to help me out, and they definitely pushed me to the limit.
What was the first thing you bought after signing your 7-year $57.5 million contract?
The first thing I bought was a recliner from La-Z-Boy. I’m still waiting for it, but that was a big purchase that I made.
A few weeks after signing your deal, you were named the 10th captain in franchise history. What does that mean to you?
The role is important to me, not just on-ice, but off-ice, too. It’s a chance to be a part of the community and leave your mark.
There are big shoes to fill from the guys who were here before. But now it’s not just one person leading our team in this situation, there’s a collective group. Everyone leads in their own way, but we all lead by example, and that’s important. My philosophy is that everyone has to lead in their own way.
What was your experience like at All-Star weekend in Vegas?
Well, you can’t go wrong in Vegas. There were plenty of things to do and a couple of long nights. We had a lot of fun. My parents were there, my girlfriend and her parents were also there, so we had some great dinners. Plenty of great memories, and like I said, you can never go wrong in Vegas.
What’s your game day routine like? Do you have any superstitions?
I don’t really like to do the same things; I like to spice it up a bit, but no superstitions. I take it as it comes and like to switch it up by playing soccer or football before games—nothing crazy like some other guys.
Are you into fashion at all? What’s the signature ‘Brady Tkachuk’ look or pieces of clothing you love to wear?
Number one on my list, Crocs. That’s a fashion statement I feel like people know me by.
My girlfriend is pretty into fashion, so she’s helped me out with my wardrobe a little bit, but I’ve still got a long way to go. I think the one fashion item that really reflects me is my Crocs.
What about clothing brands? Do you have any favourites?
I like comfy clothes like Lululemon. If we’re talking more dressy, Saint Laurent’s shoes are cool.
As I said, I need to work on my fashion game a little bit more, but it’s trending and getting better.
Music-wise, who are the two artists you love listening to right now?
I like The Fray; you can never go wrong with them and all those old songs. Elton John is another one.
What’s the best movie you’ve ever seen?
Wow, that’s a tough one. I love The Other Guys; I think that movie’s hilarious. I love Will Ferrell, so that movie is pretty high up there.
You have your signature ‘Frank the Tank’ celebration and dressed up as plenty of Will Ferrell characters for Halloween. What do you love about him and his movies?
Growing up watching all those movies when we were younger, we didn’t understand half of the jokes they were saying, but re-watching them now, it’s hilarious.
People have always told me I look a bit like Will Ferrell or John C. Reilly, so I’m just kind of rolling with it right now. You can never go wrong with a Will Ferrell movie. I feel like no matter what, you’re laughing pretty hard during it.
Sweet or salty snacks?
You have to give up one of golf, nice cars, or dessert. Which one are you picking?
Wow (Laughs). Man, that’s a tough one; it’s making me think. I’ll go with desserts to please a lot of people.
Who’s the funniest Ottawa Senator?
Austin Watson and Josh Norris also said that. What makes Nick Paul so funny?
I think he’s just so unpredictable and a little outrageous. Some of the jokes you just never think of. The way he pulls it off and acts as if nothing happened. He’s just hilarious.
What’s something you’re good at that not a lot of people know about?
I’d say video games. I’m pretty good at NHL.
What advice would you give to a young hockey player?
My dad always taught my brother and I two things: work hard and be a good teammate. You’ll be a better player if you do that and try to better yourself by shooting pucks, stick handling at home, or doing extra skills workouts.
Every team needs a good teammate, and if you also have a good work ethic, you’ll be successful. Those are the two main things.
Also, just have fun. It’s a lot of memories with your buddies and a lot of new relationships you get to make. Take advantage of the fun in the game because there’s a business side of it that’s not so fun and be thankful to your parents; they sacrifice a bunch to take you to practices and games.