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Matthew Tkachuk: Florida Panthers ‘pushed like hell’ for trade

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Matthew tkachuk panthers
Matthew Tkachuk of the Calgary Flames skates with the puck and goes against Radko Gudas during a game against the Florida Panthers on Jan. 4 in Sunrise. — AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

Matthew Tkachuk had an exclusive interview with Eric Francis of Sportsnet on Saturday afternoon, hours after he was traded from the Calgary Flames to the Florida Panthers.

Tkachuk, 24, spoke on a variety of subjects including why he decided to tell the Flames he would not sign a long-term contract extension with the team which forced them to trade him.

The Panthers were one of a handful of teams, Tkachuk said, he would agree to a new contract with.

“We narrowed it to three teams that I would have been very, very happy to go to,” Tkachuk said according to the Sportsnet story.

“At the end of the day Florida pushed like hell and it all happened within a day.”

As just about everyone who has joined the Panthers of late — from Claude Giroux to new coach Paul Maurice — Tkachuk spoke of how much fun it looked like the team was having all while winning a bunch of games.

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Friday night, Tkachuk was traded to the Florida Panthers for a package which included fellow All-NHL second-team forward Jonathan Huberdeau, defenseman MacKenzie Weegar, prospect Cole Schwindt and a protected first-round pick in 2025.

“The thing I was most attracted to is the competitiveness and how close they’ve been and how good of a team they are and how great they will be in the future,’’ Tkachuk said. “It’s something I really feel I can help with.

“All the guys are in their mid-to -late 20’s. … The chance to win was the most attractive. … The sun, the beach and all that stuff – don’t get me wrong, that’s really, unbelievably attractive, but the chance to win trumps it all.”

Tkachuk is expected to be in South Florida on Sunday and will be formally introduced with a press conference on Monday.

In the conversation with Francis and Sportsnet, he said as much as he is looking forward to joining the Panthers, he will miss Calgary.

“I will always remember my time in Calgary as the most important and best years in my life to date,” he said. “I’m leaving as a 24-year-old, young man and I went in as an 18-year-old kid. … I truly grew in that city and it’s one of the greatest cities in the world that I’ve been to – it’s so unique. There’s so many cool things about the city.

“I was looking back and reflecting about my draft day, I knew nothing about Calgary. … Leaving there I hope they can consider me the type of player the people of Alberta can be proud of. Well, in Calgary, not the people up north.

“It will always have a special place in my heart.”

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