By Brad Lee
The following is a pretty faithful transcript of Keith Tkachuk's interview on The Morning Grind radio program Tuesday, Feb. 13 on 590 AM KFNS here in St. Louis. Big Walt was a weekly guest on the show a year ago and has appeared infrequently as of late. In fact he had not spoken with new co-host Bob Fescoe until this morning, and Fescoe has been on the air since mid January.
The interview started with Tkachuk talking about driving in the rain before a winter storm hit St. Louis. His kids got a snow day even though no snow had fallen by the time he went on the air at 8 a.m. (It did end up snowing a lot)
Tim McKernan: Walter, youâ€™re the hot topic in St. Louis sports. The headline says you think itâ€™s inevitable that youâ€™re going to get traded. How accurate is that headline?
Keith Tkachuk: I think people have to know that weâ€™re in a situation where weâ€™re a lot of points out. I think we can still gain some ground, but what people donâ€™t understand is that Iâ€™m at the end of my contract. I wouldnâ€™t be surprised if the St. Louis Blues come to me and try to get something for me. I totally understand. Itâ€™s not like I want to go anywhere, but I want to win, and I want to win now. This is the business side of it and theyâ€™ll probably be coming to me.
TM: Why is it different this year. Last year you said you had the no trade clause and you werenâ€™t waiving it. Whatâ€™s different?
KT: I think last year was just difficult for us. I wasnâ€™t happy with my performance and I had an option and that was a big part of it. I didnâ€™t want to get traded somewhere and have them pick up my option to stay there. I love it here. I donâ€™t want to leave, but hopefully a playoff run somewhere might work out and win a Stanley Cup and then hopefully come back here. My family loves it here and I love it here. The people have been great to me and I love it in St. Louis.
TM: How much of what your friend Doug Weight experienced last year getting traded, winning a cup in Carolina and coming back plays in your mind right now?
KT: Itâ€™s a difficult situation. I know it was a difficult decision for Doug to leave. I know they had a deal for him and he had to decide if he wanted to go and it worked out. The only problem was he was away from his family for a long time, but he won the Cup and he signed back here. Thereâ€™s no guarantee that things will work out back here this summer. Iâ€™m 34 and I want to win. We missed the playoffs last year. I think weâ€™re good enough to make the playoffs this year, but with the trading deadline moved up this year, theyâ€™ve got to make up their mind sooner and I donâ€™t blame them. They can probably get some prospects or draft picks for myself and Bill Guerin. I understand that and I want to do whatâ€™s best for the franchise.
TM: Would you want to do what Doug Weight did, make a run hopefully at a cup and then come back to St. Louis?
KT: Absolutely. Thatâ€™s a great situation. I would love to do that, but if things donâ€™t work out this summer, then hey, Iâ€™d like to play a few more years and if thatâ€™s the case and I have to play somewhere else, I will, but St. Louis will be my home no matter what happens down the road.
Bob Fescoe: Have you talked to management telling them youâ€™ll approve a trade and want to re-sign in the summer?
KT: No. It has not happened. They canâ€™t guarantee anything. I still have the no trade, so itâ€™s still my final decision if I want to go to a particular place or not. They canâ€™t guarantee anything four months down the road. So Iâ€™m going to play hard, hopefully win some games and get closer to Minnesota or Vancouver for that final playoff spot. If something happens, I have to talk about it with my wife and see if we want to go or not.
BF: Is it safe to assume you will only go to a contender? You wonâ€™t approve a trade to an eighth-place team, right?
KT: We just have to see what happens. It will probably have to be a quick decision. I do want to help out and do whatâ€™s best for the franchise. I think JD and Larry have done a great job. I love playing for coach Murray. This organization has a bright future, if I can help them out, I will.
TM: Yesterday we had Manny Legace on the air. He said, when we won the cup in Detroit, it was with a nucleus built over four years. He doesnâ€™t want to see you guys go and this nudleus could have some success a few years down the road. What do you think?
KT: Thatâ€™s nice. People donâ€™t realize what happens behind the scenes in the locker room and we have an exceptional locker room, probably the best Iâ€™ve been around in years. You have to have thick skin to be in our locker room, Iâ€™ll tell you that much. Everybody is very comfortable with each other. Weâ€™ve got some great players, some great younger players. Manny is playing unbelievable in net. Weâ€™re playing great defense. Obviously in a perfect world, weâ€™d keep everyone together. Things change every year. Theyâ€™re in a situation to get some players in exchange for players going to playoff contenders. I wish they would keep us all together. That's the perfect world, but unfortunately thatâ€™s not realistic.
BF: Was the locker room like that before Andy Murray, or did he change that?
KT: He has changed a lot. Everybody feels like theyâ€™re an important piece of the puzzle and thatâ€™s what you need. Weâ€™ve got some great guys, but management has done a good job doing their homework and they've brought a lot of good guys in here.
TM: Are guys talking about the trade deadline in the dressing room?
KT: Oh yeah. Itâ€™s that time of year where everybody talks about trades. Thatâ€™s how it goes.
TM: Weâ€™d like to see you stay, but we want to see you raise the cup. I wish we could see you do that down at ScottTrade.
KT: Me too, this is such a great place to play.
They talked briefly about the Boston Red Sox before ending the interview.