After four seasons, Ottawa Senators’ captain Brady Tkachuk is still waiting to play in his first Stanley Cup Playoff game. But he’s definitely getting a small taste of it out west, immersing himself in the Calgary Flames playoff experience. Once the Senators’ season ended, Tkachuk and the rest of his family have been all-in on their support of his brother Matthew, a star winger with the Flames.
We’ve never really seen anything like this. For example, Jordan Staal has three brothers, who all played in the NHL. When he won a Cup in Pittsburgh, his brothers weren’t in the arena, high-fiving Penguin fans, celebrating goals and smashing beers.
Given how uncommon it is, it’s not unreasonable to wonder if it’s offside – a breach of hockey etiquette. Is it appropriate for an NHL team captain to be out there, partying it up with another NHL team’s fans? Based on social media reaction, the answer would appear to be, “Absolutely.”
For starters, Brady’s popularity in Ottawa is off-the-charts. He can get away with just about anything in this town. If the Flames win the Cup this spring and Brady skates a lap or two with it, Sens fans would probably be cool with that too.
The bigger factor is family. And there aren’t many families like the Tkachuks. They’re close, supportive, and ready to grab every bull by the horns. They’re going to fully embrace every great family moment and memory in this life whether you like it or not. Just because you share the same profession as your brother, you don’t stop supporting him.
When Brady was in the middle of his long contract negotiations last year, Matthew had no issues chiming in and lending his support.
“I’m in the mix. I’m always there,” Matthew told Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman in an interview for 31 Thoughts: The Podcast. “It’s a family business. Nobody wants to deal with the Tkachuks in this. But we do it by committee…He’s a great player, and deserves to get everything he should.”
And Brady did. His family’s agent, Craig Oster, ironed out a 7-year contract with the Senators worth an average of $8.2 million a season.
So, as we continue to witness the unique closeness of the Tkachuk family, and their joy in being together, it’s hard not to wonder – will the Tkachuks eventually want to play together? If they do, their opportunity is just around the corner.
Unlike Brady, who’s locked up long-term with the Senators, Matthew came out of his entry level contract in 2019 and signed a shorter three-year bridge deal with the Flames. That contract expires this summer. Not only does he become a restricted free agent, he’s now only one year away from being eligible for unrestricted free agency.
In the spirit of “deserving to get everything he should,” it’s doubtful that Matthew – coming off a 104-point season – will pass up the opportunity to sign a one-year deal. That will allow him to auction off his services to the highest bidder next summer, whether that’s Calgary or, you know, some other team.
“Mr. Oster, I have Ottawa GM Pierre Doiron on line 2.”
Some have suggested the Senators try and sign Matthew to an offer sheet this summer and force the Flames hand. If a team did that – which is rare – the Flames would almost certainly match the offer and keep Tkachuk, even if just to maintain possession of the asset. If the Flames chose not to match the offer, it would only be because another team put forth something ludicrous, costing them four first round draft picks as compensation. That’s not likely to happen.
If the money is right, the Flames are probably Matthew’s first choice. But they have some tough decisions to make. For example, Johnny Gaudreau is up for grabs this summer as an unrestricted free agent. If they can keep Gaudreau, he obviously won’t come cheap. The same will be said of Tkachuk next summer and cap space will be tight.
If Matthew becomes a UFA next year, the Senators will likely have the cap space to try and sign him. It all depends what they get up to this summer. By next year, they might even be a team with deeper pockets. Who knows?
If they make an offer and it’s at least competitive, Ottawa would have a leg up on others. Sometimes players give hometown discounts. In this case, maybe you get the family discount.
So, if the Tkachuk boys want to play together, there’s a pretty easy path to get there. And two Tkachuks, both bulls in a china shop, are definitely better than one.