Wed Apr 07 10:49pm EDT
As St. Louis Blues forward Keith Tkachuk(notes) announces this season will be the end of his 19-year NHL career, a quick explanation about how this blog feels about this player.
We appreciated Keith Tkachuk because he was a power forward in the Cam Neely mode, and that's a dying breed in today's faster-paced NHL. Which is why teams are always looking for a "Keith Tkachuk-type" at the deadline to do the dirty work, lead by example and score in the clutch.
We appreciated Keith Tkachuk because of 538 goals (4th among active players, 30th all-time) and 1,063 points (5th among active players) with the Winnipeg Jets, Phoenix Coyotes, Atlanta Thrashers and St. Louis Blues. We appreciated that he scored 142 goals from 1995-98 while everyone else was bitching about the trap.
We appreciated Keith Tkachuk because he was a member of the Jets and, thus, was one of the last members of an NHL 94 roster still active in the NHL. (We could lose Tkachuk, Teemu Selanne(notes), Chris Chelios(notes) and, perhaps, Owen Nolan(notes) this year; Roman Hamrlik(notes) and Alexei Kovalev play on.)
We appreciated Keith Tkachuk because his nickname is Walt, and St. Louis Blues President John Davidson can just say "Walt has been an amazing ambassador for the St. Louis Blues" and we know who he means.
We appreciated Keith Tkachuk because, for a while, there was more to love.
We appreciated Keith Tkachuk because he was a four-time member of the U.S. Olympic hockey team, and because he was the first U.S.-born player to lead the NHL in goal-scoring with 52 in 1996-97.
We appreciated that when a team trades for a high-profile free agent rental at the deadline, and then that rental goes back to his original team in the offseason, it's forever known as "pulling a Tkachuk."
We appreciated Keith Tkachuk because he scored a goal with his face:
We didn't appreciate the fact he never won a Stanley Cup or had the opportunity to play for one. We didn't appreciate the fact that he never won a major NHL award. These are things that Hall of Fame members have, and that Hall of Fame voters like; but they also like 500 goals, too, which is good news for him. (Good debate about that here.)
We appreciated an NHL with Keith Tkachuk in it, but as he said tonight: "It was an easy decision and I think it's time. I had a great run here in St. Louis and I think I'll always be the most proud of the fact I'm going to retire as a Blue."
Which is why we appreciated Keith Tkachuk.