By Brad Lee
Former St. Louis Blue Keith Tkachuk was interviewed via telephone on The Morning Grind on 590 AM KFNS Monday morning. He called from Boston where he was preparing to play in his first game with the Atlanta Thrashers Monday night. Tkachuk reiterated his affection for St. Louis and his wish to return as a free agent this summer, but said that it's far from a guarantee.
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Tim McKernan: What do you say Walter?
Keith Tkachuk: Well, itâ€™s a little bit of a change. Iâ€™m in snowy Boston right now getting ready to play the Bruins tonight.
TM: I guess we all knew it was coming, but when it happened were you surprised and how did it all go down?
KT: I was surprised. I knew it was coming. I got the phone call late Saturday night. It was one of those things where they felt they got the best deal for me. It was a no-brainer for me.
TM: Were you flattered by how much they got for you?
KT: I am. I wanted to do what I could to help out St. Louis. Theyâ€™ve been great to me. I wanted to help them out as much as possible. This is a great situation for me. Iâ€™m very happy to go to Atlanta, they have a great young team. But obviously Iâ€™m going to miss it in St. Louis, no doubt about it.
Bob Fescoe: When you choose to waive your no-trade clause, do you give them a list of teams?
KT: I didnâ€™t give them a list at all. They told my agent ahead of time that they were going to get the best deal and then come to us. They came to me. Itâ€™s a good situation. Atlanta is a good young hockey team. Weâ€™re struggling right now and fighting for our division. Weâ€™re one point back. Itâ€™s a good situation and Iâ€™m very happy to be in Atlanta.
TM: Itâ€™s not a done deal that Atlanta will be in the playoffs, but theyâ€™ve shown how aggressive they are to make something happen right now by the trade for you and the trade for (Alexei) Zhitnik.
KT: The playoffs are right now. Weâ€™ve got less than 20 games left, weâ€™re fighting for our lives, but Iâ€™m pretty confident we can get in and fight for a Stanley Cup.
BF: How much did you talk to Doug Weight about this kind of situation?
KT: We talked about it. Obviously it was a shock to him to be traded so soon. But he walked into a great situation, won a Stanley Cup and enjoyed it. Thereâ€™s some downfall for awhile. He was away from his family for awhile, but it was worth it. He got great support from his wife. I got the same from my wife. Iâ€™m going to miss the wife and kids, but theyâ€™re going to try and come down. Iâ€™m going to come back, actually Tuesday and Wednesday. Itâ€™ll be back and forth.
TM: You get to go home to Boston and start new there.
KT: Itâ€™s nice. I got to see my parents last nice. Iâ€™ve got a lot of fans here. Iâ€™ll be nervous tonight, no doubt about it.
BF: Whatâ€™s your role going to be with Atlanta?
KT: I think theyâ€™re going to play me at center tonight with Kovulchuk.
TM: Wow, thatâ€™s a nice little deal.
KT: Wait â€˜til he gets a load of some of my passes off his shin pads. Theyâ€™re hurting down the middle with an injury to Steve Rucchin. I havenâ€™t even talked to the coach yet. Iâ€™m having my meeting with him this morning.
TM: When it comes to returning to St. Louis do you feel itâ€™s a legitimate possibility?
KT: Iâ€™m sure there is. Iâ€™m going to be a free agent July 1. There will be some interest because I love playing there, but weâ€™ll see what happens down the road. Right now Iâ€™m an Atlanta Thrasher. My focus right now is hockey in Atlanta right now and getting in the playoffs. Whatever happens this summer happens. I enjoyed my time in St. Louis. Weâ€™ve got a lot of friends there. Thatâ€™s some place weâ€™ll definitely live no matter what happens this summer.
TM: Iâ€™m reading between the lines. It seems like you want to come back but youâ€™re not sure if the Blues will have you. Is that a fair assessment?
KT: Yeah, I think it is. I have the utmost respect for John Davidson and Larry Pleau. JD came in and had a difficult job. Larry has been great to me. Obviously thereâ€™s some interest to go back, but I donâ€™t know the situation with money. I have no idea. Me being a free agent, they had to get something for me, especially with the start we had, it was very difficult to make the playoffs. Who knows what will happen, but thatâ€™s a long way away and weâ€™ll visit it when we come to it.
BF: Do you look back and think that if Andy Murray was here from day one, that you guys wouldnâ€™t have gotten off to that start and things would be different around here now?
KT: Things happen, but Andy Murray is a great coach. The boys have played well since he came. Who knows. We were playing real well for him there for a stretch, but you never know.
TM: Youâ€™ve had a lot of time here in St. Louis, whatâ€™s your favorite memory?
KT: Getting traded there was a great memory. I walked into a situation where there was a great hockey team and getting to the conference finals is something special. Itâ€™s a great sports town. People are great. You work hard, theyâ€™ll love you. Itâ€™s eventually where Iâ€™m going to live, so youâ€™re really not getting rid of me totally.
TM: When you shut it down no matter where you go, you plan on living here the rest of your life?
KT: Absolutely. The schools are great, the kidsâ€™ sports are great. Weâ€™ve met a lot of great people and we feel very comfortable in St. Louis. Plus they have a great little restaurant with O.B. Clarkâ€™s. You canâ€™t forget that.
TM: You like that Schneidhorstâ€™s too.
KT: Jimmy Schneidhorst is a little depressed because he wonâ€™t have his breakfast partner every morning. Iâ€™ll have to find a place like it down in Atlanta.
BF: How much longer do you envision playing?
KT: Iâ€™d like to play two or three more years. Iâ€™m not really thinking about it now. Itâ€™ll be taken care of this summer.
TM: Youâ€™re a future star youth hockey coach is what I foresee.
KT: I love youth hockey. St. Louis is a great place to play hockey for kids. We want to get more and more kids playing in St. Louis. You see what Al MacInnisâ€™ team did, the 1996 AAA and my sonâ€™s team that plays for Jeff Brown, they won their silver sticks. Youth hockey is looking up and up there.
TM: Weâ€™ve enjoyed your time in St. Louis. Itâ€™s been a pleasure.
KT: Hey, thanks a lot, eh.