SUNRISE — Matthew Tkachuk was announced on Thursday night as the Florida Panthers’ representative at next month’s All-Star Game and he says he cannot wait to show his new town off to his peers.
Tkachuk, who lives in Fort Lauderdale not far from where the NHL All-Stars will be housed beachside, will be making his second All-Star appearance.
”I’m the lucky guy who gets to show off his town,” Tkachuk said.
His first trip to an All-Star Game came in 2020 in his hometown of St. Louis.
Tkachuk not only bought a suite for his family, but wore a St. Louis Cardinals’ Yadier Molina jersey during the skills competition.
This appearance comes in the place he will call home for the foreseeable future.
Tkachuk already has his own Miami Marlins jersey if he plans on going the baseball route in this one.
He said he expects over 20 friends and family to make the trip south.
His brother Brady, captain of the Ottawa Senators, will be his teammate on Team Atlantic as well.
Brady Tkachuk likely has dibs to ride ‘shotgun’ in the custom golf cart Matthew likes to cruise around Fort Lauderdale in.
“It’s pretty cool,” said Tkachuk, who signed an eight-year deal with the Panthers as part of the blockbuster deal with the Calgary Flames in July.
“This will be my second one so being able to represent my team in the host city, show off this amazing place, will be awesome. Hopefully we’ll get some other guys on the team as well. Being my first year here, it’s very exciting.
“I am looking forward to having lots of people in town, people close to me. That’s what is important. It’s not the skills or the game itself; it’s the whole week. Having everyone here and me be able to show off my new home and make everyone else jealous of where I live.”
Tkachuk is the lone Florida player on the All-Star roster although that could change in the coming weeks.
On Thursday, the NHL announced one player from each team who will participate at All-Star Weekend in South Florida on Feb. 3-4.
There are three more spots — two skaters and a goalie — yet to be named for each of the four divisions meaning another Florida player could be added in the coming weeks.
An online fan vote will determine the remainder of the divisional rosters. The vote started on Thursday night and runs through Jan. 17.
For the first time, there will also be a Twitter vote which starts Jan. 12 and ends two days later.
Per the NHL ‘each fan tweet must include the complete hashtag #NHLAllStarVote followed by a player’s full name or a player’s Twitter handle. Only referencing a last name will not count. All twitter votes will be combined with online vote totals.’
The three remaining players per division will be announced on Jan. 19.
The coaches will be determined based on the standings following the games of Jan. 11.
Since the Panthers are hosting the event, if a member chosen for the Atlantic team was not able to make the event due to injury, it is likely a Florida player would be given consideration to replace them.
The All-Star Game features a three-game tournament, played in a 3-on-3 format, with each of the four divisions represented. Each of the four teams includes nine skaters and two goalies.
Last year in Las Vegas, the Golden Knights had three players participate.
Tkachuk, who turned 25 last month, was the obvious choice by the NHL to represent the Panthers at this year’s All-Star event — one which will have numerous events throughout Broward County with the game and most of the skills competition held at FLA Live Arena.
With 20 goals and 47 points through his first 36 games withe Panthers, Tkachuk has certainly lived up to the hype surrounding him when he came to Florida as part of a deal in which fan favorites Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar went to Calgary.
“I was a little surprised when I heard about (the trade) just like everyone else,” Radko Gudas said Thursday. “But I thought for our team, the way we exited the playoffs last year, that it was a clear message to our group that we were going to change the way we played. We’re going to be more gritty, play some hard-nosed hockey. He is up to that challenge so I was excited to get going with him. He has been a good addition.”
Added coach Paul Maurice: “When Barkov and Lundell go out of your lineup, you ask the skill guys to produce numbers and he has just done it. I still think this guy has another level. … His overall game and he is a smart and at (25), he is only going to get better. You have to remind yourself there is an upside to this guy — and there will be 10 years of upside. This guy’s a player.”
Tkachuk said he did not come to Florida expecting to make an All-Star team or anything of the sort but as the season comes to the midway point, he is the overwhelming MVP of what has been a disappointing season in Florida.
He was asked Florida’s season will put a damper on the event and Tkachuk seemed ready for the question.
The Panthers, he said, will be in a much better spot when the All-Star Game comes around than they are when he was named to the team.
“We have 14 of 15 games (left),” Tkachuk said. “I think a lot will change. We have a lot of travel, a lot of tough opponents and hopefully that brings our team closer together. We’ll bring that gritty, low-scoring desperate hockey and win those kind of games.”
As far as playing with Brady goes?
”I have never played with him on a team in my life so that will be very cool,’’ Matthew Tkachuk said. “The potential to have all of the family here cheering us on is what excites me the most.’’
PANTHERS ON DECK
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT DETROIT RED WINGS
- When: Friday, 7 p.m.
- Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit
- Streaming/TV: Bally Sports Florida/ESPN+
- Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Last season: Florida won 4-0
- This season (Florida leads 1-0): Panthers 5, Detroit 1 (Dec. 8)
- All-time regular season series: Florida leads 34-19-6, 5 ties
- Up Next for the Panthers: Sunday at Dallas, 3:30 p.m.