The Tkachuk Brothers: A Temporary Suspension of Brotherly Love
Under normal NHL circumstances, Brady Tkachuk of the Ottawa Senators and Matthew Tkachuk of the Calgary Flames would only face each other a couple of times a year and the games would usually be well spread out. This season, thanks to COVID-19 and travel restrictions, everything has aligned so that hockey's Bash Brothers will go head to head 5 times over 11 nights.
Given the high-impact, wrecking-ball style of play that both men possess, one might fairly wonder if their brotherly love will be put to the test this week. Game one was a beatdown on the scoreboard —the Sens won 6-1—but there actually wasn't a single infraction in the entire game...not by the Tkachuks, not by anyone. But there's still a long way to go. And, the fact is—at least from Brady's perspective—if things do get ornery, it'll feel like business as usual.
“No matter what we were doing (growing up) it was always a competition,” Brady told a media Zoom conference, just hours before the first Sens-Flames game of the season. “Matthew, being the older brother and so much bigger than me growing up, he beat me up every single day and beat me in every competition.”
“So I had to really work my hardest to try and stick with him. As we were growing up, he was just so much better than me. He was bigger, stronger, faster. I got used to getting my butt kicked. I was trying to do everything I could to win, but it just never really happened. Matthew never took his foot off the gas. He was always giving it to me. But I think it helped us out in the long run.”
When asked about whether Matthew ever let him tag along to play with his older group of friends, it sounded like he was about to soften his description of the relationship. But only for a moment.
“With Matthew, he always brought me along and always made me feel included,” said Brady. “I think he wanted me around just to beat up on me. But it was good. It was fun. And those are great memories that we’ll both have.”
Frankly, getting pounded on daily by your older brother doesn't sound like the best of memories...but each to their own.
These days, at 6 foot 4, 212 pounds, Brady is now two inches taller and ten pounds heavier than his older brother. Brady has caught up offensively as well. Brady enters the series with 8 goals and 15 points in 21 games. Matthew has 6 goals and 14 points in 20 games. So Brady's days of being a pushover are clearly long gone, both physically and competitively.
But we're unlikely to see them actually fighting this week. The boys quite famously made a vow to their mother, Chantal, that they will try not to drop the gloves with each other. But, with so many games in such a short time frame, it's hard to imagine they won't eventually annoy each other just enough to be sent to the penalty box—their new time out chairs.
Leaving aside the competition, Brady says it's a pretty special showdown. And, barring another pandemic, it's one not likely to be repeated.
“It's not only special for Matthew and I but my parents, my sister and all of our extended family and friends who'll be watching,” said Brady. “It’s huge for them too because they've all had an impact on us. They've all helped us get to where we are now. I think it's a great moment for everybody.”
Brady then steered the conversation back to the fire of competition.
“These are big games too so we're not going to take these games lightly. (Matthew and I) both want to win them and we're both here to do whatever it takes to win.”
“We can be brothers after and before. But when we get on the ice, we both want to win.”
Matthew's Flames have had the edge in that department, bullying Brady and the Sens in the past, entering this week with a 3-1 head-to-head record. But Brady got one back in the opener with the 6-1 victory.
That isn't likely to sit very well with his big brother.
Steve Warne | Sens Nation Hockey