Brady Tkachuk: Senators captain joins neighborhood street hockey game

An afternoon NHL game apparently wasn’t enough hockey for Senators captain Brady Tkachuk.

When he came home from Sunday’s game and saw the neighborhood kids playing street hockey, the 22-year-old had to join in.

Tkachuk, fresh off a two-pass performance against the Detroit Red Wings, drove home and got out of his car when one of the kids — then all of them — yelled at him to join.

Neighbor Andy Morrisey, whose two sons are part of what has become an almost daily road hockey game in Wellington West, said Tkachuk threw part of his suit inside, approached, grabbed a right-handed hockey stick (he normally shoots left) and joined the game.

“He just jumped. Nothing more complicated than that,” Morrisey said. “He’s what you hope he is. And we see him all the time. It’s really cool.”

Many kids were at the game still wearing their Senators gear. Morrisey said they all wore gigantic smiles for the roughly 20 minutes Tkachuk played.

“Honestly, he gets it. He understands that building a professional athlete brand doesn’t require large sums of money and a complex public relations strategy,” Morrisey said. “It’s basic, right?

“It’s totally genuine. It wasn’t contrived, it wasn’t premeditated.”

Tkachuk first moved into a house in the neighborhood with former senators Mark Stone. He and the other senators who lived there were welcome additions.

Last year, when forward Tim Stützle was living with Tkachuk, the same kids celebrated his first career hat trick by throwing their hats over the backyard fence in a surprise celebration.

On Sunday, Tkachuk insisted on taking a photo with the kids before heading to a team dinner. Morrisey said parents often remind their kids how lucky they are to have so much interaction with an NHL star.

“We have to tell our children, ‘This is not normal. You are very, very lucky. Understand and appreciate this.'”

Catherine J. Martinez