‘It’s a big honor’: Matthew Tkachuk represents Panthers perfectly under spotlight of All-Star Weekend

Matthew Tkachuk of the Florida Panthers speaks to the media during 2023 NHL All-Star Media Day at FLA Live Arena on February 02, 2023 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images) (Megan Briggs, 2023 Getty Images)

SUNRISE, Fla. – Matthew Tkachuk hasn’t been a Florida Man for very long.

The midsummer trade that brought Tkachuk to the Florida Panthers sent shockwaves across the NHL, but for a guy who grew up in the Midwest and spent the past six seasons in Calgary, he sure seems to have settled into South Florida nicely.

Take last weekend, when the league’s best and brightest converged on Broward County for the 2023 NHL All-Star Game. The 25-year-old didn’t look like a guy who had only been playing and living in the Fort Lauderdale area for a few months.

From signing autographs for fans and getting soaked in a dunk tank on the beach to teaming up with his brother Brady on the ice for the first time ever, Tkachuk looked right at home.

How settled in was he?

When the nonstop weekend activities took a backseat to the main event, Tkachuk scored the first goal in each of the two games he played. It took him 36 seconds to open the scoring in his first game and 37 seconds to net the first tally in game two. Brady assisted on both.

“Getting to play with Brady, it was fun from the start,” Tkachuk said. “An unreal experience.”

Matthew Tkachuk #19 of the Florida Panthers celebrates with his brother Brady Tkachuk #7 of the Ottawa Senators after scoring his third goal against the Metropolitan Division during the 2023 NHL All-Star Game between the Metropolitan Division and the Atlantic Division at FLA Live Arena on February 04, 2023 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) (2023 Getty Images)

The brothers looked as brothers should while sharing the ice, teaming up for twelve points over the two twenty-minute, 3-on-3 games.

It may have helped that Matthew’s teammate in Florida and world-class center Sasha Barkov was the meat in this gourmet Tkachuck sandwich.

“For the first time my brother and I being able to play with each other, it’s the perfect linemate for us,” Tkachuk said of Barkov. “We’ll see if our paths cross again.”

Though the sample size was small, the chemistry that grew between the trio was fun to watch blossom over the course of the afternoon.

After it was all over, a friendly neighborhood reporter for a local television station asked Barkov to describe was it was like playing with the Tkachuks.

“It was actually fun, I wasn’t expecting that,” Barkov quipped, prompting a confused, “What?” from Tkachuk as the room full of media members chuckled.

“Two great guys, off (the) ice especially,” Barkov continued. “We had a lot of fun on the bench, on the ice. You never felt any nerves because you were having fun and enjoying every second.”

The comfort and chemistry between linemates was a beautiful thing to behold on the ice, culminating in a big night for the host players and team.

It’s something that Tkachuk said he took seriously, even more so than any personal accomplishments.

“To be honest, I really didn’t care about anything other than representing my team,” he said. “It’s a big honor to be one of the representatives, along with Barky.”

It’s probably safe to say that the Panthers higher-ups were pleased with how the organization was represented.

Tkachuk wound up taking home All-Star MVP honors after racking up seven points (4-3-7) while leading the Atlantic Division to a pair of victories, a 10-6 win over the Metropolitan Division in the semifinal and a 7-5 Final win over the Central Division.

The five points he tallied during the first game tied a single-game record (under the 3-on-3 ASG format that began in 2016).

“We came out hot in the first game,” Tkachuk said afterward.

On Monday, the All-Star shine hadn’t quite worn off…and the league made it stayed that way.

Tkachuk was named the NHL’s First Star of the Week, highlighting his accolades during the All-Star Game.

He’s only the fourth American-born player to be named All-Star Game MVP, following in the footsteps of Mike Richter in 1994, Bill Guerin in 2001 and Brock Boeser in 2018.

“Getting to play with Barky and getting to play with Brady, it was just fun from the start,” Tkachuk said. “Guys were actually having a lot of fun on the bench. It was a pretty funny group, so it made for a fun day.”

A little fun in the South Florida sun was just what the league was hoping for when naming the Panthers as All-Star hosts this year.

It seems pretty evident that team, and its superstars, did not disappoint.

“I know we both enjoyed everything that we did,” Tkachuk said of himself and Barkov. “It was just an awesome weekend, all-around.”

About the Author:

David Dwork joined the WPLG Local 10 News team in August 2019. Born and raised in Miami-Dade County, David has covered South Florida sports since 2007.