« It’s going to be stressful for our parents. » Matthew and Brady Tkachuk begin their rivalry in the Atlantic Division

Has an NHL rivalry between two players ever started literally a second after a trade?

This is undoubtedly the case between Matthew and Brady Tkachuk on Friday, July 22, 2022.

It was supposed to be Brady’s night, after all. A day earlier, he and his longtime girlfriend Emma Farinacci announced their engagement. His family joined the Tkachuks for a celebratory dinner. At one point, Matthew and the boys’ mother, Chantal, disappeared from the table for a while. They eventually reappeared and Matthew couldn’t contain himself.

« He pulled me aside and said, ‘I just signed in Florida, but don’t tell anyone until it’s official,' » Brady Tkachuk said. , he walks out. It was quite a unique experience to be there and have my fiancee’s family there. »

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Thunder: Stolen? Not only was Matthew the talk of the NHL that night, traded from the Calgary Flames at his request after delivering a 106-point season in 2021-22, but his landing spot was the Florida Panthers. This meant Matthew hijacked the engagement party by announcing he was joining Brady in the Atlantic Division.

So should we start faking the UFC-style posters now with the Tkachuks, arguably the two best pure forwards in the NHL today, locking horns three times this season, including twice in the past two weeks?

Not exactly. It is complicated. On the one hand, the brothers are close. They care enough about each other that they don’t want to hurt each other. The family’s no-fight rule remains intact.

« It’s set in stone for sure, » Brady said. “This rule will not be broken. But we are going to have competitive matches. It’s just who we are as people and players that we both want to win. I expect more battles, but we will never cross the line.

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They’re also confident they can always cheer each other on to succeed, though they recognize it won’t be quite the same as Brady donning Flames colors to crush beers at the Saddledome and host a conference. crossover for Matthew during the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs – which Matthew loved and defends to this day.

« It’s one of the most special things in the world to play against your brother, » Matthew said. “The Hughes boys (Jack, Quinn, Luke) will tell you the same. It’s very difficult to have two guys from the same family playing in the NHL. We don’t see this as a personal rivalry at all, but our teams will be battling for playoff spots, along with a bunch of other teams in the division. It’s a really solid division this year. Games will matter a lot more, so we’ll speed it up a bit. But at the end of the day, he is still my brother and I will support him.

But the rooting might only last so long if the Panthers, who gave up a lot to get Matthew this summer, and the Senators, who added plenty of major plays to back Brady this summer, end up fighting for the same spot in playoffs, whether it’s one of the three Atlantic slots or a generic Eastern Conference position. There’s no denying that the competition will be different than it’s ever been for the Tkachuks, given the stakes that revolve around both franchises.

For the Panthers? It’s the pressure to follow a Presidents’ Trophy season with a deeper playoff streak after being shockingly swept by the Tampa Bay Lightning in Round 2 last spring. The Panthers gave up two key pillars of the franchise in left wing Jonathan Huberdeau and defenseman MacKenzie Weegar. They also said goodbye to UFA Mason Marchment, Claude Giroux and Ben Chiarot. They’re not as deep as they were a year ago, so they’re relying on Tkachuk, who they locked in a signing and trade for eight years at a $9.5 million AAV, to replicate his superstar performance last season.

He’s fine with that. He wants nothing less than a franchise determined to win. It was a crucial part of his research when he gave the Flames a list of teams he would trade with.

« I was on the phone a lot just to talk to people, I did a lot of research on the possibilities, and not just Florida – other places, but Florida was easily a cut above the others, » said Matthew. “I understood the terrain about living there, I just felt super comfortable with it. At the end of the day, no matter where you live or where you play, you want to be part of a very competitive team that has a chance to win year after year, and I think we have that – I to know we have that in Florida.

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The pressure should actually be relatively « easy » for Matthew in Florida. He’s leaving a division winner in a Canadian market for a place where, as he said a few weeks ago, « I haven’t even looked at a hoodie or pants. » This is the first time I’ve worn a shoe with a heel in the past few months.

For Brady, though? High stakes are new. The Senators added Giroux as a free agent, traded for scorer Alex DeBrincat, traded for (now injured) goaltender Cam Talbot and added crash-and-bang controller Tyler Motte. Pierre Dorion “won the offseason,” as many of us like to say, and Ottawa is expected to improve on last season’s 33 wins and 73 points.

« People have often mentioned this summer that it’s the toughest division, and that’s what we want as a team, as an organization, » Brady said. “We want this challenge and I want to prove the doubters wrong. It’s the most excited I’ve been, and I can say on behalf of a lot of guys that they came into the season with the hype and how excited they are to go.

So we have 6-foot-2, 202-pound bruiser Matthew Tkachuk, prized acquisition, joining a Stanley-Cup-or-bust franchise. We have 6-foot-4, 211-pound slugger Brady Tkachuk leading a team that should make the playoffs. Are we… sure that no combat rules remain intact? The competition is going to be hot in 2022-23, perhaps hotter than the Tkachuks realize until they face off as regular-season division rivals for the first time on Oct. 29 in Ottawa.

« It’s going to be weird, it’s going to be an adjustment, but we’re both excited, » Brady said. « …It’s definitely going to be stressful for our parents, especially my mom. » I will feel bad for her.


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