New Florida Panther Tkachuk: ‘I hate Tampa now’

Matthew Tkachuk says he is prepared for the Battle of Florida after waging the Battle of Alberta for the primary six years of his NHL profession.

“I hate Edmonton, however I hate Tampa extra now,” mentioned Tkachuk, who was traded by the Calgary Flames to the Florida Panthers in a blockbuster deal on Friday evening.

Tkachuk was launched by the Panthers at a information convention on Monday, having signed an eight-year, $76 million contract extension. Florida acquired the 24-year-old ahead and a conditional fourth-round draft decide for star ahead Jonathan Huberdeau, defenseman MacKenzie Weegar, prospect Cole Schwindt and Florida’s lottery-protected first-round choice within the 2025 NHL draft.

The Tampa Bay Lightning have gained two of the previous three Stanley Cup championships and have eradicated the Panthers from the playoffs in two straight postseasons.

“I am excited for these video games,” Tkachuk mentioned. “They’re the workforce to beat. It looks like for us we will must undergo them sooner or later, so I am excited for that problem. They know what it takes to win, and have been going to be taught that.”

He goes from a hockey-wild metropolis in Calgary to a market that has room to develop. As evidenced by his opening salvo in opposition to the Lightning, Tkachuk believes his persona may grow to be a promoting level for the franchise.

“I carry a sure swagger that can actually assist this workforce [on the ice]. Off ice, I’ve the identical persona,” Tkachuk mentioned. “I am excited for the possibility to develop the sport down right here. I hope that in a number of years, no one on the workforce can stroll exterior with out any individual saying one thing to them, like how it’s in among the different locations across the league. I’ve a great confidence. It isn’t a cockiness. I feel a few of these groups on this convention which have had success have that. The workforce on the opposite finish of the state has that.”

Panthers basic supervisor Invoice Zito in contrast Tkachuk to each a unicorn — “Do not take that too severely,” he cautioned his latest participant — and the character Jimmy Chitwood from the film “Hoosiers” in the course of the information convention.

“On the finish of the film, he says, ‘Coach, I am going to make [the shot].’ It is that sort of confidence. Gimme the ball. He needs the shot,” Zito mentioned.

The Panthers GM mentioned the commerce for Tkachuk got here collectively final week, with the participant’s agent reaching out to specific Tkachuk’s willingness to signal long-term in South Florida. His refusal to take action in Calgary led the Flames to hunt a commerce for the restricted free agent ahead. It meant the Flames would lose each of their main scorers this summer season, Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau, who signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets on the primary day of NHL free company.

Getting Tkachuk meant parting methods with Huberdeau and Weegar, who will probably be unrestricted free brokers subsequent summer season. The Panthers’ cut up with Huberdeau was beautiful, on condition that he was their main scorer final season and maybe the franchise’s greatest star.

“You gotta give to get. It was a state of affairs that got here up in a really, very brief window,” Zito mentioned. “When you could have a chance like this, you must pursue it.”

The commerce was unrelated to any contract talks with Huberdeau or Weegar, Zito mentioned.

“When you could have an opportunity so as to add a participant like Matthew to the group, the value is steep. That is how issues went down,” he mentioned.

Tkachuk mentioned he does not see himself as changing Huberdeau, the main scorer in Panthers historical past. “I am a distinct sort of participant,” Tkachuk mentioned. “I do not really feel stress. I am right here to win. Private [stats] can get thrown out the door. I am right here to be the final workforce standing. I am not evaluating myself to anyone.”

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