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Flames All-Stars enjoying the experience in St. Louis

by TORIE PETERSON @ToriePeterson /

ST. LOUIS - With a sea of microphones and cameras in front of him, Mark Giordano paused and took a moment to just absorb his surroundings.

"This is," the captain surmised, "very cool."

To his left, his teammates Matthew Tkachuk and David Rittich were getting their first taste of the NHL All-Star Media Day. With Tkachuk being a St. Louis native, it was no surprise his podium was packed with reporters trying to get some time in with the hometown hero but Rittich's podium was packed as well.

Many have only seen the Rittich from afar and this was their first chance to chat with the always-affable netminder.

"To be here with my teammates, to see them go through this experience, it's great," Giordano said.

While Giordano was already excited to see Tkachuk embrace the experience in St. Louis, having younger brother Brady named to the Atlantic Division roster earlier this week adds a new element to the weekend. 

"For their family to have the brothers in their first All-Star Game, in their hometown, I think it's pretty special. I'm looking forward to hanging out with them, for sure."


Video: Tkachuk takes you behind-the-scenes in St. Louis


Giordano is making his third All-Star appearance this year, so these proceedings are old hat to the veteran. He made his All-Star debut in 2015 in Columbus, alongside Johnny Gaudreau in the winger's rookie season, and was back at it again with Gaudreau in 2016 in Nashville. This year, he'll be taking part in the Enterprise NHL Hardest Shot competition on Friday and is eagerly looking forward to the game on Saturday night.

"It's fun. I think it's a good weekend. We get treated great and every city that come to has a different theme, so I really enjoy it. I (wouldn't) enjoy going in the fastest skater or puck handling (competitions) but I really enjoy being a fan and watching those, seeing all the talent in the league. The thing I really like now is the 3-on-3 format, compared to the 5-on-5. I think it's a lot better for the fans and the players as well.

"The 5-on-5 game (was) sort of passive, you're not defending really well. This one, 3-on-3, everyone is playing forward out there so you just go out, skate around, and make plays."

As Giordano mentioned, the Tkachuk brothers will be making their NHL All-Star debuts together with Brady being added in on Wednesday when the news broke Auston Matthews would be unable to participate in the on-ice events this weekend.

"It's exciting that we get to share this moment," Tkachuk said. "We've scored millions of goals in that rink growing up, when my dad would take us. It's going to be a very, very important few days for my family to reflect and realize both of their sons are in the All-Star Game."

The pair do have plenty of experience with the event given their father's prolific NHL career. During their childhood, they would tag along with him to every All-Star Game he took part in.



"I just remember following around all the players," Tkachuk said. "We looked up to my dad, but I think at something like that, we were more obsessed with guys like (Patrick Kane). I remember (Alex Ovechkin) was there and (Evgeni Malkin). All these guys were there, and those were my favorite players growing up watching.

"And so I think that once we were able to be at the age where we were fans of the game and fans of these guys, that's where we started to appreciate a lot. We got tons of pictures. My mom always made us take pictures.

"It was fun to be a part of something like that, especially at the age where we could remember it.


Tweet from @NHLFlames: A few shots from the Tkachuk brothers' #NHLAllStar album.


"My dad said he lost track of my brother and I. We were just running around, getting pictures."

For Rittich, the event marks a moment he never thought he would get to be a part of.


Video: "I'm not a guy who could expect to be an All-Star."


"When I was young, I was dreaming about the NHL and now I'm here with the best players in the world, it's awesome," he said.

"I'm not a guy who could expect to be an All-Star, be something like that. I'm glad and I'm proud of myself. I'm proud of everyone who helped me here.

"I think my parents and a lot of my friends are going to watch the game and watch the skills (competition) so it will be great."

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