In this edition of the "85 Years" series, Keith Tkachuk recalls discusses fellow American-born star Jeremy Roenick as both an opponent and teammate.
My first-ever conversation with Jeremy Roenick was a short one.
"85 YEARS" SERIES
On November 17, 1926, the Chicago Black Hawks took the ice for the first time. 85 years later, the Blackhawks hold an important place in NHL history and Chicago sports.
In celebration of the Blackhawks’ 85th anniversary, Blackhawks Magazine and chicagoblackhawks.com will profile some of the greatest players to ever don the sweater, with essays written by the people who knew them best: teammates, rivals, broadcasters and other members of the NHL community.
Check chicagoblackhawks.com every Wednesday for another entry in the "85 Years" series.
Recent "85 Years" essays:
> Jonathan Toews, by Steve Yzerman
> Bill Hay, by Eric Nesterenko
> Bob Probert, by Dave Manson
> Dirk Graham, by Troy Murray
We were both teenagers, and one day I got a call from him asking if I would join his old junior team, the Hull Olympiques, who had also drafted me. He called me up, I graciously turned him down. I always had my eyes on Boston University, so it wasn’t really even up for debate. But I appreciated his call, and it began our friendship that carries on even today.
When I think of Jeremy Roenick, I think one word: “Hollywood.” That’s it. In the National Hockey League, he’s a celebrity in every sense of the word. He’s one of the game’s great personalities, always accommodating fans and media, and he had a game to match. He had style and substance.
Though so much of his legacy is built on his personality, it’s hard to find too many better players in his era. From the moment he entered the league, you could tell that he was going to become a dynamic player. His rookie season, he still had a lot of growing to do. For about a 150- or 160-pound guy to come in and put up the numbers he did, that just tells you how he played.
Jeremy’s secret weapon was his versatility: he could score, he could set up a play and he could even fight. You were always aware when he was on the ice. And he gave it everything he had every shift.
Friends or not – and he and I were really good friends from the time I entered the league – it didn’t matter. He would run you through the boards. You always had to be on your toes when Jeremy was on the ice there.
When the Jets moved from Winnipeg and became the Coyotes, we added Jeremy to the team, and it turned out to be great for both of us. It was a great partnership – everybody thought he and I might clash a little bit personally, but we became even better friends. I learned a lot from him. I mean, who wouldn’t want to play with Jeremy Roenick?
Jeremy also brought his swagger with him to Phoenix. From the moment he entered our dressing room, it got a lot more flair, that’s for sure. He was a great influence on our team; he was always relaxed and made everyone feel comfortable. He was the perfect teammate in a lot of ways – a great player, but an even better person. A lot of guys improved being exposed to Jeremy away from the ice, in addition to all that he brought on the ice.
What you see is what you get with him. Deep down he would do anything for you, and you respected that as a teammate.
Jeremy was a superstar in the best sense of the word. From the way he carried himself off the ice to being one of the best players of his generation, he did it all.