Tuesday, November 30, 2010
After a year at Boston University, where the Terriers lost a thrilling 8-7 national championship final in three overtimes, as well as beginning his international career by playing for the United States in the 1991 World Junior Tournament, Keith Tkachuk spent the majority of the 1991-92 season playing for the US National Team.
He played a number of games with the national team through December before playing in his second World Junior tournament. Following the World Juniors, Tkachuk then resumed his duties with the US National Team in preparation for the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, France.
Following the Olympics, Tkachuk began his NHL career with the Winnipeg Jets, who had drafted him with the 19th pick of the first round of the 1990 NHL Amateur Draft. He got his feet wet with 17 regular season games and seven playoff games prior to embarking on a full NHL season in 1992-93 and joined a Winnipeg team on the rise, which featured an international flavor with Tkachuk joining players from Finland, Russia, Sweden, the United States and of course, Canada. While Tkachuk's 51 points were overshadowed by Teemu Selanne's record shattering 76 goal season, the rugged forward made his presence known in other ways however, as he totaled over 200 penalty minutes, second most on the club.
Tkachuk led the Jets in points the following season with his first 40 goal season (41) and 81 points in 84 games and was named the team captain, a post he would hold for two seasons. Two years later he would raise his game to the next level when he reached the 50 goal mark and again led the Jets in points, this time with 98 in what would be the Jets final season in Winnipeg.
When the Jets relocated to Phoenix and were renamed the Coyotes, Tkachuk made the move with the club and was once again named team captain, the first in Coyotes history. He led the club in scoring once more with 86 points as well as playing in his first NHL All-Star Game. He raised his personal best goal total to 52, which led the NHL and made him the first ever American-born player to do so. He was also only the fourth player in league history to record 50 goals and 200 penalty minutes, making him the definition of the modern power forward.
He repeated as team scoring leader again in 1997-98 and had his fourth season with 40 or more goals with an even 40.
At the trade deadline three seasons later, Tkachuk was dealt to the St. Louis Blues for three players and a first round draft pick following a couple of injury plagued seasons. His impact was immediate as the Blues made it to the conference finals where Tkachuk was second in playoff scoring by a single point with seven goals and ten points in ten games.
Three 30 plus goal seasons followed with Tkachuk leading the Blues in scoring in 2003-04 with 71 points. The Blues traded Tkachuk to the Atlanta Thrashers at the 2007 trade deadline for a player and a first, second and third round draft picks only to see Atlanta eliminated in four straight in the first round of the playoffs.
Tkachuk then immediately returned to St. Louis as a free agent in time for the 2007-08 season which included him scoring his 500th career goal on the final day of the season into an empty net. Back for another season with the Blues, Tkachuk scored his 1,000th career point on this date in 2008 as part of a 4-2 Blues win over Atlanta, just the sixth American to reach the 1,000 point plateau.
Tkachuk would play one final season with the Blues in 2009-10, finishing his career with 1,021 games played, 538 goals and 527 assists for 1,065 points and 2,219 penalty minutes.
After his initial international experience prior to joining the Jets in 1992, Tkachuk was once more was a member of Team USA at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, where he earned a gold medal. He returned to the Olympics in 1998, 2002, earning a silver medal on home soil, and one final time in 2006. He also made a noteworthy return to the World Cup in 2004, which included a memorable four goal performance against Russia in the quarterfinals.
Today's featured jersey is a 2003-04 St. Louis Blues Keith Tkachuk jersey from the season Tkachuk led the Blues in scoring. The white version of this jersey was introduced as an alternate for the 1997-98 season, and was essentially a modern take on the Blues jerseys worn from 1973 to 1984. Blues fans raved about the new sweaters and they were quickly promoted to replace the controversial multi-diagonally striped previous set which featured a large amount of red, especially on the road jerseys.
With the white alternate now promoted to the new home jersey, a blue version was created as the road jersey, which remained in use for nine years until being retired due to the change to the new Reebok Edge jerseys. We predict if not forced to retire this jersey to make way for the Edge jerseys, the Blues would have continued to use this very clean and striking jersey to this day.
Bonus Jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1992 United States National Team Keith Tkachuk jersey as worn in the 1992 World Junior Tournament held in Germany where Tkachuk scored seven points in seven games as the United States came home with the bronze medal.
Our first video today is Tkachuk scoring his 50th goal of the season into an empty net during the final Winnipeg Jets regular season game in 1996.
Next up is Tkachuk's 500th NHL goal on the last day of the 2007-08 season, also into an empty net.
Here are highlights from Tkachuk's four goal game in the quarterfinals of the 2004 World Cup of Hockey against Russia with his fourth one into an...
Finally, a look back at the career of Keith Tkachuk, perhaps the greatest empty net scorer in hockey history!