The Stanley Cup playoffs are the most exciting time of the year for hockey fans. Even if your team is eliminated, you’re bound to catch a few games or even follow along every series, stress-free. Playoff hockey never disappoints in keeping us all engaged even without the vested interest.
The NHL loves a good rivalry, a good “Battle Of…” story and while the Battle of Florida has disappointed, the Battle of Alberta has delivered the playoff intensity we all love to watch. But we’re not here to discuss the magic of Connor McDavid or that crazy Game 1 and Matthew Tkachuk’s constant taunting of Evander Kane. We’re here to discuss the true star of the Calgary Flames in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Brady Tkachuk.
Yes, you read that right. Our Captain has been a constant source of attention and praise without even having played a single playoff game this season. He has been one of the Flames’ biggest fans and has not shied away from supporting his brother Matthew in the loudest way possible.
Brady started catching people’s attention during the first round when the Calgary Flames faced the Dallas Stars. He even travelled to Dallas to be right here in the enemy crowds. At first, it wasn’t made to be a big deal, we enjoyed seeing him have a good time. As he attended more games, he became more involved, and people started paying attention. This was the scene as the Flames closed the series against the Stars, and no this kid does not belong to the Tkachuk clan.
Tkachuk crew is completely fired up. Brady has a child on his shoulders. Lord have mercy pic.twitter.com/UjNndLWDIV— Lalime's Martian (@LalimesMartian) May 16, 2022
Even the Flames were seemingly obsessed as they were continuously posting Tkachuk reactions and had him on stage before a game, throwing shirts at fans.
Tkachuk Cam. pic.twitter.com/Z2D1ojKEoq— y - Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) May 16, 2022
The Tkachuk family appears to be extremely close-knit and always up for a good time. They’ve been at many Flames games together and haven’t even done the typical “sit in the box” routine, instead immersing themselves with the fans to get the full experience. Brady is putting his heart into cheering for his older brother as well as wearing the infamous “Matthew Tkachuk Friendship Tour” shirt. It seems this had ruffled a few feathers, surprisingly not from anyone in Ottawa.
I’m going to be very honest; I did expect people from Ottawa to have an opinion about Tkachuk so openly cheering another NHL team, but it seems the majority if not all fans have embraced it. Then came a tweet from The Athletic’s Darren Haynes that had us all scratching our heads:
The captain of another NHL team being Matthew Tkachuk's super fan boy is just so, so weird to me.— Darren Haynes (@DarrenWHaynes) May 19, 2022
Sure, but it’s maybe the 100 mph all-in over-the-topness that separates him from other supportive brother examples. Honestly, have you seen something quite that exuberant before in the NHL? A lot of brothers have come through the NHL. Can you imagine the Sutters being like that?!— Darren Haynes (@DarrenWHaynes) May 19, 2022
Darren Haynes’ tweets weren’t met kindly, and he eventually changed his tone. Fans from all teams flocked to defend Brady and assert that what he was doing was fun and endearing to watch. Nobody had an issue with a brother supporting family as most of us would do the same for our own. The media loves to create this illusion that athletes are somehow sacred creatures that are on a different level than the rest of us. Haynes also went on to compare Tkachuk to the Staal and Sutter brothers, saying he thinks what Brady is doing is “unusual” because other brothers have never done such a thing. Again, why is their way the “norm”? Why must hockey always revert to the boring way of doing things?
Sens fans haven’t had the luxury of enjoying a lot of on-ice success in recent years. We’ve also had to constantly battle the notion of being a smaller fanbase that is often too timid and too boring. Somehow, moving through the trials of the last few years fired us up and gave Sens fans a chance to just build back with a new attitude and dare I say a new identity. We no longer care about the jokes, we have managed to celebrate every wonderful thing about this team no matter how trivial it may seem even if we’ve had to wait for 5 years without a playoff appearance. We owe this rejuvenation to a new generation of players to help us fall in love with this team all over again. This happened because we have a Captain like Brady Tkachuk who isn’t afraid of showing some character whether it be on the ice ,or a night out with his buddy Josh Norris in a karaoke session.
Now, Brady can showcase what we’re hoping our team identity to be to the entire hockey world. He’s getting people excited to watch him simply be in the stands walking around with beers in both his pockets. He even scored himself a quick sponsorship from Budweiser giving him and the Senators even more exposure in the process.
The NHL has always been uptight about the way it thinks players should behave. Don’t celebrate too hard, don’t dress too wildly, and answer the questions with routine recycled responses. The NHL could use a breath of fresh air, it needs to appeal to those who have never watched the sport, but they can’t do that if they refuse to change what they represent. Sports is fun, even with its heartbreaks and frustrations, it’s a source of entertainment for us all. The NHL is so cautious about displaying that aspect of hockey and instead continues to use the old ideologies of the hockey code and what it “should” stand for. We need guys like Brady Tkachuk who is simply cheering for his brother to get hockey fans united to enjoy something unusually fun. This isn’t just about Ottawa, although we’re going to take full credit for our Captain entertaining you, it’s about breaking out of this shell of being such a serious and mature sport. It’s about looking around the league to see Brady Tkachuk being called the most lovable player in the league and seeing reactions like this (even from our most hated rivals) from fans who simply don’t care where he plays but just enjoy seeing him having a good time:
Brady Tkachuk really is the GOAT... pic.twitter.com/LEbnZTDeYn— V-Gan Sausage Rolls (@AdamIronGoose) May 24, 2022
Thank you to sens twitter for loaning Brady Tkachuk out to us during these important times— just learned that segway makes rollerblades (@itlooksreal) May 19, 2022
Brady Tkachuk going all in cheering for Matthew Tkachuk is great, and if you don’t like it, I feel bad for you.— Andrew Berkshire (@AndrewBerkshire) May 19, 2022
The unlikeliest outcome of this playoffs so far is me becoming a Brady Tkachuk fan. https://t.co/Qmqq1WgGhO— Kent Wilson (@Kent_Wilson) May 19, 2022
The literal bromance— Claire Hanna (@clahanna) May 16, 2022
& support that Brady Tkachuk is showing for his brother is the sweetest thing ever.
And you know what? One day Matthew will very likely be wearing Sens swag in Ottawa when the script is flipped. https://t.co/3BXuM9eJiQ
When the Captaincy was up for grabs, I thought Thomas Chabot was the perfect fit for the role. When Tkachuk was named Captain, I wasn’t surprised but still unsure. Once again, the kid proved me wrong because the Captaincy isn’t simply about discussing a bad call on the ice or rallying up the team in intermissions. Brady is slowly carving a whole new culture for this team, he’s building a team that people will talk about, and he’s giving the Senators back the respect they lost in the past few years.
There is nothing weird about Brady Tkachuk wearing Flames-adjacent gear to cheer on his brother. Not only because he’s family but because the Ottawa Senators and the NHL need good ambassadors to grow our beautiful game.