|Keith Tkachuk will participate in the SuperSkills Competition and the 2009 NHL All-Star Game this weekend in Montreal. |
Even though he’s already made the trip four times, Keith Tkachuk said he will never get tired of going to the NHL All-Star Game.
“Anytime you can represent your team in an All-Star Game, you have to take advantage of it,” said Tkachuk, who will make his fifth career appearance in the midseason game on Sunday. “I was a little bit surprised (to get the invitation), but I’m going to enjoy every minute of it.”
It’s an honor that’s well-deserved.
In just over a year, Tkachuk played in his 1,000th NHL game, scored his 500th career goal and notched his 1,000th career point. And with injuries to many of the team’s key components this season, Tkachuk has also emerged as a leader.
Through 44 games this year, the 16-year NHL veteran has 15 goals and 16 assists and ranks second on the team in total points.
“He’s played hard for our team. He’s been the leader through all the injuries and everything else,” said Blues center Andy McDonald
, who is expected to return soon from an ankle injury that has kept him out of the lineup since mid-November. “I’m sure the younger guys really look up to him. It’s well-deserved, and there’s no doubt he’ll represent the St. Louis Blues well.”
Blues goaltender Manny Legace played in his first career All-Star Game in 2008 and recalled it as an experience he’d never forget.
“You never know if you’re going to go back again. It’s just a blast,” Legace said. “I haven’t had that much fun in a weekend playing hockey since I was a kid. Not worrying about anything, not worrying about what the scores are. You’re just out there to have fun, play the game, hang around the guys and just have a blast all weekend.
“He’s on cloud nine,” Legace added. “I was on cloud nine. You couldn’t keep me down, couldn’t keep the smile off my face until after the game.”
|Sunday's game will mark Tkachuk's fifth time at the NHL All-Star Game. (Getty Images). |
Names like Alex Ovechkin, Pavel Datsyuk, Jarome Iginla and Joe Thornton highlight this year’s group of All-Stars. At 36, Tkachuk says he feels honored to share the ice with such an elite group.
“I’ll be 37 soon. To get a chance to do this at my age, I’m very excited,” he said. “It makes you feel pretty good. I’ve been fortunate to be part of this (game) for a long time.”
The event gives Tkachuk a chance to spend a quality weekend with his family. For the first time, all three of his children are old enough to understand the feat their father has accomplished.
“It’s quite an honor,” McDonald said. “It’s a celebration of all the elite players in the league, and it’s pretty commendable for Walt because he’s played extremely well for this hockey team.
“I’m real happy for him.”
Tkachuk will participate in the 2009 Honda/NHL SuperSkills Competition on Saturday, Jan. 24 at 6 p.m. before suiting up for the All-Star Game on Sunday, Jan. 25 at 5 p.m.
“Keith can pretty much do anything he puts his mind to,” McDonald added. “We get to see that first hand every night, so it should be fun to watch.”