Panthers' Matthew Tkachuk dons goggles, goes full 'Florida Man' in Breakaway Challenge
Published in Hockey
SUNRISE, Fla. — Matthew Tkachuk really likes being a Florida Panther and he wants to make sure everyone knows it.
The All-Star right wing has spent most of the last six months telling everyone about how much he likes his new life with the Panthers. At the NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Friday, he got a chance to show it.
As the final participant in the NHL Breakaway Challenge, Tkachuk made his routine all about South Florida. He placed Brady Tkachuk in a beach chair and got Aleksander Barkov to dress up like a lifeguard. He draped a towel around his shoulders, placed a bucket hat on his had and strapped scuba goggles to his face. The All-Star right wing even got Christian Wilkins to go out on the ice with him, waving a pool noodle to fire up the friendly Sunrise crowd.
“A lot of people,” Tkachuk said, “are pretty jealous of where Barky and I get to play.”
On a night of gimmicks, Tkachuk didn’t deviate too much from the norm — his actual shot was mostly unspectacular, bouncing the puck on his stuck as he approached, catching it in his bucket hat and then shooting everything past Roberto Luongo, who was wielding a pool noodle instead of a stick — and it got him a second-place finish in an underwhelming Breakaway Challenge by delivering one of the few highlights of the day for FLA Live Arena.
“The goggles, I will say, I added last minute,” Tkachuk said. “I was flipping it, I immediately regretted it.”
The winner, instead, was the combination of All-Star forwards Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, who got the top score after Sergei Ovechkin, the Washington Capital’s 4-year-old son, scored and Max Kerman of the Arkells awarded Tkachuk a 2 of 10.
“That was a joke,” Barkov deadpanned, stone-faced. “We need to find the guy.”
The score wasn’t what mattered, though.
Tkachuk insists he hasn’t been bragging to other players around the league about how close he lives to the beach and what the weather is like in Florida. He said they don’t need a reminder.
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