Keith Tkachuk

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Keith Tkachuk
Keith Tkachuk.jpg
Born (1972-03-28) March 28, 1972 (age 49)
Melrose, MA, USA
Height 6 ft 2 in (188 cm)
Weight 235 lb (107 kg; 16 st 11 lb)
Position Left Wing
Shot Left
Played for Winnipeg Jets
Phoenix Coyotes
St. Louis Blues
Atlanta Thrashers
National team  United States
NHL Draft 19th overall, 1990
Winnipeg Jets
Playing career 1991–2010

Keith Matthew Tkachuk (/kəˈʌk/; born March 28, 1972) is an American former professional ice hockey player who played in the National Hockey League (NHL) in a 19-year career with the Winnipeg Jets, Phoenix Coyotes, St. Louis Blues and Atlanta Thrashers, retiring in 2010.[1][2] He is one of only five American-born players to score 500 goals, and is the sixth American player to score 1,000 points and is considered to be one of the greatest U.S.-born players in NHL history.

Playing career

Early career/background

Tkachuk, from East Boston originally, was born in at the Melrose/Wakefield Hospital in Melrose, Massachusetts, and played high school hockey at Malden Catholic High School in Malden, Massachusetts.[3] Tkachuk played one season of collegiate hockey at Boston University, was a member of the United States national junior team in 1991 and 1992 and a member of Team USA in 1992.[4] He was drafted in the first round, 19th overall, in the 1990 NHL Entry Draft by the Winnipeg Jets, who acquired the pick from the Buffalo Sabres in the deal that sent Dale Hawerchuk to Buffalo.[1] Tkachuk played as a center, left winger and right winger in his career.

Tkachuk has earned the nickname "Walt" (given to him by Eddie Olczyk), possibly in reference to Walt Tkaczuk, a star center who played for the New York Rangers from 1967 to 1981. The two players' last names are pronounced similarly but spelled differently, and the two men are not related to each other. With his strong play in front of the net, using his size and strength to battle opposing defensemen, St. Louis Blues broadcasters and fans dubbed Tkachuk "Big Walt."

Winnipeg Jets (1992–1996)

Only days after the end of the 1992 Olympics, Tkachuk made his NHL debut on February 28, 1992, against the Vancouver Canucks, where he tallied an assist. He would finish the season playing with the Jets, scoring eight points in 17 games. In the Stanley Cup playoffs that year, he scored three goals in seven games. The following season, 1992–93, was Tkachuk's official rookie year. He appeared in 83 games and ended the season with 28 goals and 51 points, including a 12–game scoring streak from March 9 to April 3, 1993.

Tkachuk became the team captain the next season on November 3, 1993, two weeks after recording his first hat-trick, against the Philadelphia Flyers. Some of his accomplishments from that season include leading the Jets in goals (41), points (81) and power play goals (22). The 1994–95 season, which was shortened by a labor lockout, saw Tkachuk earn all-star second-team honors, as well as being second on the Jets in points scored.

In the 1995–96 season, Tkachuk dominated the Jets' statistics, finishing first in goals (50), assists (48), points (98), power play goals (20), game-winning goals (6), shots (249) and plus-minus rating (+11).[5]

At the start of 1995–96 season, Tkachuk, a restricted free agent at the time, signed a lucrative, front-loaded five-year offer sheet worth $17 million, with $6 million coming in the first season from the Chicago Blackhawks.[6] Despite the Jet's impending relocation to Phoenix, Arizona, and the organization's poor financial situation, the Jets matched the offer-sheet within six hours. As a result, Tkachuk was stripped of the captaincy and replaced by Kris King; nonetheless, he set a career-high 50 goals and 98 points, the closest he ever came to reaching the 100-point plateau. Tkachuk was renamed captain of the team in their final playoff game due to an injury to Kris King. Going up against the Presidents' Trophy-winning Detroit Red Wings, the Jets lost in six games, with Tkachuk scoring a goal and two assists in the series. After losing Game 6 by a score of 4–1, the final Jets game in the city of Winnipeg before relocating to Phoenix, Tkachuk led the Jets in a final skate around Winnipeg Arena in appreciation of the fans.[7]

Phoenix Coyotes (1996–2001)

The Jets relocated to Phoenix, Arizona, in 1996, where Tkachuk became a member of the newly formed Phoenix Coyotes. It was with Phoenix during the 1996–97 season that he has his career-best 52 goals, and made his first appearance in the NHL All-Star Game. He also led the team in goals, points, power-play goals, game-winning goals and shots for the 1997–98 season, earning him his second-straight All-Star appearance. For the 1998–99 season, Tkachuk led the team in goals, power-play goals, game-winning goals, shots and plus-minus, and again was named to the All-Star Game. In 1997, Tkachuk appeared on the front cover of the video game NHL Breakaway '98.

After struggling with injuries for the next two seasons, the Coyotes traded Tkachuk to the St. Louis Blues in 2001 in exchange for Ladislav Nagy, Michal Handzuš, Jeff Taffe and a first-round draft pick (Ben Eager), where he was re-united with former teammate Dallas Drake, who had signed a free agent deal with the Blues in the summer of 2000.[8] Tkachuk would leave the team ranking second in all-time goals (323) and first in penalty minutes (1,508), among other records.

St. Louis Blues (2001–2006)

Tkachuk made an immediate impact on the Blues, scoring six goals and eight points in the final 12 games of the 2000–01 season. The Blues made it to the Western Conference Final in the playoffs that season, ultimately losing to the Colorado Avalanche, the eventual 2001 Stanley Cup champions. Tkachuk experienced several injuries whilst playing with the Blues, and was briefly suspended by the team when he reported to training camp overweight, failing his physical at the beginning of the 2005–06 season.[9]

Atlanta Thrashers stint and return to St. Louis (2007–2010)

On February 25, 2007, Tkachuk was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers in exchange for Glen Metropolit, a first-round pick in 2007, a third-round pick in 2007 and a second-round pick in 2008.

On June 26 of the same year, St. Louis reacquired Tkachuk, along with a conditional fourth-round draft pick, in exchange for a conditional first-round pick in 2008. (If Tkachuk had re-signed with the Thrashers, the Blues would have acquired Atlanta's first-round pick in 2008.) Since the Blues acquired exclusive negotiating rights with Tkachuk and re-signed him to a two-year deal, Atlanta received a conditional fourth-round pick in 2008.[10] Tkachuk signed a new, two-year contract with the Blues for $8 million on June 30. Upon re-signing, Tkachuk said of the Blues that, "I see a lot of good things happening... They're going to be very active in making this a better hockey team."[11] To help prove the Blues would be better, after signing Tkachuk, they signed left winger Paul Kariya. Blues Head Coach Andy Murray announced that he would try a line where Tkachuk would be centering Kariya on left wing and Brad Boyes on the right.[12]

On the last day of the 2007–08 regular season, April 6, Tkachuk scored his 500th NHL goal, a milestone only three other American-born players have achieved, as well as the 41st player to reach the milestone in NHL history.[13]

On November 30, 2008, Tkachuk scored goal number 511, giving him 1,000 NHL points for his career. He became only the sixth American, and 72nd overall, to achieve that milestone; it came in his 1,077th NHL game. He signed a one-year contract extension with the Blues on June 19, 2009.[14] On April 7, 2010, Tkachuk announced that he would be retiring from hockey at the conclusion of the 2009–10 season.[15] He played his final NHL game two nights later on April 9, 2010.

Style of play

One of the elite power forwards of his era, Tkachuk was known for his aggressive, physical style while consistently scoring points. Tkachuk had more than 100 penalty minutes in 10 of his 19 NHL seasons, including three seasons with over 200 penalty minutes. Tkachuk was known for his goal scoring prowess, scoring 30 goals eight times, including two 40-goal seasons and two back-to-back 50 goal seasons, the latter of which he led the NHL in goals, with 52.

Personal life

Tkachuk has been married to Chantal Oster, whom he met in Winnipeg, since February 28, 1997, and has three children — Matthew, Braeden and Taryn. He is still a fan favorite in St. Louis and is an investor in sports talk radio station KFNS (590 AM, St. Louis MO). He is an assistant coach with the St. Louis Blues Peewee AAA hockey team, where his son Braeden plays on the team.[4]

Tkachuk is Irish on his mother's side, and is cousin to NHL player Tom Fitzgerald, with whom he grew up. When asked about the derivation of his surname, Tkachuk was unsure, suggesting it could either be "Polish, Russian, [or] Ukrainian, one of those."[16] He is also cousins with brothers Jimmy and Kevin Hayes, current NHL players with the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers, respectively.

Select milestones


Tkachuk led the NHL in goals during the 1996–97 season with 52, the first American-born player to do so.[17] That season he was also only the fourth player in NHL history to record 50 goals and 200 penalty minutes in a single season.

Other records:

  • Arizona Coyotes #2 franchise record for career game-winning goals (40)
  • Arizona Coyotes franchise record for career penalty minutes (1,508)

Career statistics

Regular season and playoffs

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1990–91 Boston University HE 36 17 23 40 70
1991–92 Winnipeg Jets NHL 17 3 5 8 28 7 3 0 3 30
1992–93 Winnipeg Jets NHL 83 28 23 51 201 6 4 0 4 14
1993–94 Winnipeg Jets NHL 84 41 40 81 255
1994–95 Winnipeg Jets NHL 48 22 29 51 152
1995–96 Winnipeg Jets NHL 76 50 48 98 156 6 1 2 3 22
1996–97 Phoenix Coyotes NHL 81 52 34 86 228 7 6 0 6 7
1997–98 Phoenix Coyotes NHL 69 40 26 66 147 6 3 3 6 10
1998–99 Phoenix Coyotes NHL 68 36 32 68 151 7 1 3 4 13
1999–00 Phoenix Coyotes NHL 50 22 21 43 82 5 1 1 2 4
2000–01 Phoenix Coyotes NHL 64 29 42 71 108
2000–01 St. Louis Blues NHL 12 6 2 8 14 15 2 7 9 20
2001–02 St. Louis Blues NHL 73 38 37 75 117 10 5 5 10 18
2002–03 St. Louis Blues NHL 56 31 24 55 139 7 1 3 4 14
2003–04 St. Louis Blues NHL 75 33 38 71 83 5 0 2 2 10
2005–06 St. Louis Blues NHL 41 15 21 36 46
2006–07 St. Louis Blues NHL 61 20 23 43 92
2006–07 Atlanta Thrashers NHL 18 7 8 15 34 4 1 2 3 12
2007–08 St. Louis Blues NHL 79 27 31 58 69
2008–09 St. Louis Blues NHL 79 25 24 49 61 4 0 0 0 2
2009–10 St. Louis Blues NHL 67 13 19 32 56
NHL totals 1,201 538 527 1,065 2,219 89 28 28 56 176


Medal record
Representing  United States
Ice hockey
Winter Olympics
Silver medal – second place 2002 Salt Lake City
World Cup
Gold medal – first place 1996 North America
World Junior Championships
Bronze medal – third place 1992 Kaufbeuren
Year Team Event   GP G A Pts PIM
1991 United States WJC 7 6 3 9 12
1992 United States WJC 7 3 4 7 6
1992 United States OG 8 1 1 2 12
1996 United States WCH 7 5 1 6 44
1998 United States OG 4 0 2 2 6
2002 United States OG 5 2 0 2 2
2004 United States WCH 5 5 1 6 23
2006 United States OG 6 0 0 0 8
Junior totals 14 9 7 16 18
Senior totals 35 13 5 18 85

Awards and honours

Award Year
All-Hockey East Rookie Team 1991
Second All-Star Team 1995, 1998
All-Star Game 1997, 1998, 1999,
2004, 2007
USA Hockey
Hall of Fame 2012 [18]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Keith Tkachuck Player Card". Retrieved 2007-01-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Blues looking to sing a different tune this season". Archived from the original on 2007-10-22. Retrieved 2007-07-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Keith Tkachuk". Retrieved 2014-10-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Biography for Keith Tkachuk". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2007-01-18.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "NHLPA Player Bio". NHLPA. Retrieved 2007-01-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Markus, Robert (October 4, 1995). "Hawks' Plan Jettisoned". Chicago Tribune.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Jets final game in Winnipeg". YouTube. 2010-02-03. Retrieved 2010-02-03. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Keith Tkachuk Player Bio". The Sports Network (Canada). Retrieved 2007-01-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Leaner Tkachuk ready to prove doubters wrong". Retrieved 2007-01-18.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Blues re-acquire Tkachuk from Thrashers". STLtoday. 2007-06-26. Retrieved 2007-06-26. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Tkachuk inks deal with Blues". The Sports Network. Archived from the original on 2007-07-03. Retrieved 2007-07-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Blues looking to sing a different tune this season". Archived from the original on 2007-10-22. Retrieved 2007-07-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Chris Pinkert (2008-04-06). "For Tkachuk, Milestones Keep Piling Up: Blues power forward scores 500th career goal Sunday at Columbus". St. Louis Blues. Retrieved 2008-04-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Blues, Tkachuk agree to one more year". The Sports Network. 2009-06-19. Retrieved 2009-06-19. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Tkachuk to retire at end of season". St. Louis Blues. 2010-04-07. Retrieved 2010-04-07. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Athlete profile: Keith Tkachuk". 3 February 1998. CNN / Sports Illustrated. February 3, 1998. Retrieved 4 October 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Blues decide to retain Tkachuk". Associated Press. Retrieved 2007-01-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "Keith Tkachuk - Hall of Fame". USA Hockey. 2014-05-16. Retrieved 2014-05-16. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Stu Barnes
Winnipeg Jets first round draft pick
Succeeded by
Aaron Ward
Preceded by
Dean Kennedy
Winnipeg Jets captain
Succeeded by
Kris King
Preceded by
Winnipeg Jets captains
Kris King
Phoenix Coyotes captain
Succeeded by
Teppo Numminen
Preceded by
Mario Lemieux
NHL goal leader
Succeeded by
Peter Bondra and Teemu Selänne