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Matthew Tkachuk and Mark Giordano named to annual league showcase game in Chucky's hometown of St. Louis - Johnny Gaudreau part of Last Men In online voting

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick /

Back then, he was a fan.

As hardcore as they come, with big dreams and even bigger talent that would place him here, in that very spot, someday, too. 

With his father, Keith, in the twilight of a storied career, representing the West in the NHL All-Star Game, an awestruck, 11-year-old Matthew Tkachuk was in his glory. 

"I remember going through the locker-room, asking for autographs, getting pictures," the Flames' hard-nosed winger said of the 2009 event at the Bell Centre in Montreal. "I've got a lot of pictures with a lot of all-stars that, I think, might even be in this game, too.

"We might have to recreate some of those."


Video: "It's pretty exciting"


Back then, he was the stereotypical, wide-eyed superfan, with names like Toews, Kane, Luongo, Niedermayer, Iginla, Doan and so many more Sharpie'd across that crisp, 
white sweater with the NHL crest that only the greatest are lucky enough to wear. 

Now, having shed the dirty blonde mop from the decade-old, red-carpet archives, Matthew is set to embark on his own all-star journey for the very first time. 

In his hometown, no less. 

Just how he drew it up.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Tkachuk, who was playing with the St. Louis Triple-A Blues during his last all-star experience. "I have to take full advantage of this weekend. The amount of family and friends that I'm going to have in town is going to be insane. 

"As a kid, I remember going into the lounge at the hotel and there were video games everywhere - that's what I remember. It's probably not the best thing to remember about that all-star game in Montreal, but I'm really looking forward to this one.

"It's pretty cool to be talked about and put into that category with some of the top players in the league. I think as hockey players, in general, we don't care at all really about your personal accomplishments - everything we do is towards (winning) the Stanley Cup, and it's always 'team first, team first, team first,' but when something like this happens, you have a chance to reflect for a little bit. 

"I'm definitely proud of myself. It's going to be a cool experience being in my hometown in St. Louis, and to have Gio along with me, it's going to be a very special weekend."



Tkachuk will be attending his first all-star game, while the NHL's reigning Norris Trophy winner, 36-year-old Mark Giordano, his third. 

Johnny Gaudreau will also have a chance to play in the game as part of the NHL's Last Men In online voting.

Tkachuk enters the final game of 2019 as the Flames' leading scorer, with 35 points (15G, 20A) in 40 games. The league, undoubtedly, took note of his rise when he scored one of the most dazzling goals in NHL history back on Halloween night, grabbing a loose puck in full flight and going between his own legs to roof an overtime winner, capping one of the great comebacks in franchise history. 


And precisely the work of all-star. 

Giordano, meanwhile, continues to be a workhorse on the backend, averaging more than 24 minutes per game on the team's top pair, doing it all as one of the best and most highly respected leaders of this generation. 


Video: "It's obviously an honour"


"He deserves it," Tkachuk said. "He's our most complete - and most likely our best - player each and every night. The way he competes in games and in practices, he deserves this. He does so much stuff away from points or that stuff, he provides something every shift for us and I'm very, very happy for him to be selected."

Giordano last represented the Flames in back-to-back years - 2015 and 2016 - but is back where he belongs now. 

His 19 points (4G, 15A) in the first half of the campaign have him on pace for another torrid season offensively, while the underlying numbers support what a complete player he is. 

Giordano is one of the team's top drivers in offensive possession and scoring chances, and does it all with a heavy defensive workload. 

While he jokes that he may not be up for any of the skating or stick-handling drills at the annual skills competition, Giordano's well-rounded skill-set is what makes him one of the NHL's great defenders. 

This honour just further proves that. 

"There are so many great players in the league and to be selected and be part of that group is something you never take for granted," Giordano said. "I've been with Johnny a few times, and I think going with Chucky in his hometown and being part of that is going to be pretty special.

"I'll enjoy it, I'll follow him around St. Louis and have some fun."

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