Future Uncertain for Tkachuk

Forward is debating whether to return or hang up the skates next season

Thursday, 03.18.2010 / 6:47 PM / St Louis Blues - News
By Dan Rosen  - NHL.com
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Future Uncertain for Tkachuk
   
Blues forward Keith Tkachuk says he can still play but is contemplating making this season his last (Getty Images).

  Tkachuk: Career Stats and Player Bio
  More: Tkachuk OK Without an 'A'
NEW YORK -- As Keith Tkachuk nears the end of his 18th NHL season, the St. Louis Blues' graying, grizzled veteran is wondering if he's nearing or perhaps even at the end of his playing career.

"There are always times when you think, and you think a lot," Tkachuk, who will turn 38 on March 28, said Thursday from Madison Square Garden. "I have some thoughts running through my mind. You just get older and you're not the same as what you used to be. It gets a lot harder and guys are bigger, stronger and faster."

If Tkachuk has made up his mind regarding his future, he's not telling. Asked to reveal what he thinks he might do -- play another season or hang up his skates, Tkachuk said, "My future is now, buddy."

The Blues are facing a difficult road to get into the playoffs, but Tkachuk is confident his team can make a run. No matter what happens, he knows he'll be at a crossroads soon. He's scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent July 1.

"Either way we'll make a decision after the season fairly quickly, but I'm hoping we're playing in the playoffs and making a run," Tkachuk said. "I'll be 38 next week and whatever happens after the season, you'll know one way or the other."

In 1,191 NHL games, he has 537 goals, 524 assists, a plus-31 rating and 2,213 penalty minutes. He has 12 goals and 16 assists in 57 games this season.

"I want to just enjoy this run here and get into the playoffs," he said. "I'll talk to my wife and talk to Larry (Pleau, Blues GM) and we'll make a decision."

Pleau told NHL.com Tkachuk's future is not a topic of discussion right now.

"That's too far," Pleau said. "We haven't even gone there."

If Tkachuk does come back to play, he will do so only as a Blue.

"I think I made that pretty clear when I didn't waive my no-trade, nor did they ask me," he said. "I think that answers your question right there."

Tkachuk was willing to be traded at the deadline last season, but the Blues held on to him and it paid off as they made a miraculous run to the postseason. They finished sixth in the Western Conference after spending most of the first half of the season mired in last place.

"Last year was a little different," Tkachuk said. "I was shocked I wasn't moved, but this year my decision was to play for the Blues and finish what I started here."

Even if he chooses retirement, it doesn't sound like Tkachuk will stray far from St. Louis or the Blues' organization.

He's been in St. Louis since 2001, and his 423 points heading into Thursday's game are seventh in franchise history. He's also fifth on the Blues' all-time list for goals (207), seventh in game-winning goals (28) and fourth in power-play goals (96).

"I know I can still play, but it's been a long time, a lot of hard games and a lot of hard years," Tkachuk said. "I love this game. I love these guys. Larry Pleau has really extended my career by bringing me to St. Louis. Who knows where I'd be if I didn't come to St. Louis?

"I have learned a lot from a great organization. I have been through some ups and downs here. When I first got here it was automatic, it was win now, win now, and then we went through some tough years and some changes. The bottom line is I didn't want to play anywhere else."

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WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. Steen 68 33 29 17 62
T. Oshie 79 21 39 19 60
D. Backes 74 27 30 14 57
J. Schwartz 80 25 31 28 56
A. Pietrangelo 81 8 43 20 51
K. Shattenkirk 81 10 35 1 45
V. Tarasenko 64 21 22 20 43
D. Roy 75 9 28 -1 37
J. Bouwmeester 82 4 33 26 37
V. Sobotka 61 9 24 14 33
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
B. Elliott 18 6 2 .922 1.96
R. Miller 25 30 4 .918 2.64

 
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