There’s two camps when it comes to Matthew Tkachuk: you love him or you hate him. That’s it and there doesn’t appear to be an in-between. And the breakdown goes a little something this: those in the “love him” corner are Flames fans, his teammates and his family. EVERYONE else fits into the “hate him” corner and that’s fine.
For those of us in the first column, you have to love everything he said during his interview with Flames TV after signing his 3 year, $21 million dollar contract with Calgary on Wednesday. If you haven’t watched it, give it a look and we’ll continue once you’re done.
We all caught up? Good. The highlight from this interview is his desire to be in Calgary, but also to keep this version of the Flames together. Now, sure there’s a few pieces that could have been dealt, but are still here <cough Brodie> <cough Frolik> due to different circumstances, but a 21 year old thought it more important to sign a reasonable deal so no one had to be traded to make room for him. Novel concept. The quote that got me was this:
“I’m excited for the team and the fact that we get to keep everybody from last year’s team or mostly everybody from last year’s team. And keep guys from training camp and everybody, my close friends, my close teammates, everybody, just everybody. It’s good to be back and have a similar team to last year. What a great group of guys and a great group of guys I think we can do something special with.”
The maturation of Matthew Tkachuk can be seen in that quote alone. Will he still be the sandpaper on the ice for the Flames, annoying and drawing penalties from opponents? Of course, that’s part of his game. But he also understands what the Flames have right now. He could have held out longer and tried for a bigger contract, but that would have required the Flames to move some players and break up that core he speaks so fondly of.
Tkachuk wanted to be a Calgary Flame, plain and simple. The money that pro athletes bring home is astronomical and something many of us can’t wrap our minds around. Don’t feel bad for Tkachuk with the dollar figures of this contract. I’m pretty sure when he was a kid he never dreamed he’d be signing his name on a piece of paper with the words “$21 million dollars” attached to it. He’s going to do fine financially. In three years the Flames and Tkachuk’s camp can worry about a longer deal and for more money, but for now he’s done what’s good for him AND the team. Look at the other stars in this league and the teams they play for and their financial issues. The Flames have Tkachuk, Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, Elias Lindholm and Mark Giordano all locked up for a total of $31.725 million dollars. That’s just smart money management. Other teams should be so lucky, right Toronto?
Tkachuk might be a menace on the ice, but he keeps his nose clean off the ice, which is just as important. When you’re a star in this league and you make that much money there’s always a spotlight on you, wrong or right. There’s never any talk about Matthew Tkachuk’s life off ice and for ANY of the Flames stars for that matter. Can’t say that everywhere across the NHL landscape.
In the end Matthew Tkachuk got to pocket a good chunk of change and the Flames got a star player at a good value. Win/win. How often does that happen? And more importantly, a player didn’t sign just to sign because the money was there. He signed a good contract AND wants to win where he is. Now, get out on the ice and annoy the hell out of everyone.