After 19 NHL seasons, Keith Tkachuk announced that he will retire at the conclusion of the regular season this weekend.
At his peak Keith Tkachuk was a 50 goal threat despite spending 200 minutes in the penalty box. He was one of the best power forwards of his generation. He played 1200 games, scoring 538 goals, 525 assists and 1063 points.
That's an impressive average season of 37 goals. Only in his final season did he fail to score 20 goals in a full campaign. And he is one of only 4 players in NHL history to register 1,000 points and 2,200 PIMs.
As Keith Tkachuk retires, the inevitable question will be asked: Is Keith Tkachuk Hall of Fame worthy?
I say no.
Tkachuk had some very good career totals, but not as good as Dino Ciccarelli, Dave Andreychuk, Pat Verbeek, Pierre Turgeon and Adam Oates. They are likely to continue their wait for the Hall of Fame, so Tkachuk's numbers will not be enough to get in him.
That is because Tkachuk has a poor reputation in playoffs and big games. Only once in 19 seasons did a Tkachuk-led team go deep into the playoffs, with the St. Louis Blues being stopped in the conference finals in 2001. Only on one other occassion did a Tkachuk-led team make it past the first round. In fact, three seperate times a Tkachuk led team blew a 3-1 series lead.
I would put Tkachuk in a grouping of peers that includes Owen Nolan, Rod Brind'Amour, Trevor Linden, Vincent Damphousse, Ryan Smyth, Bill Guerin and Doug Weight. All were very, very good hockey players. But none are Hall of Famers.
In Tkachuk's favor, rightly or wrongly (I say wrongly), is the fact that he is an American. Nationality should not matter, but his status as one of the top American players of his generation is unquestioned. Should he pick up one point in his final two games he will pass Joe Mullen as the 4th highest scoring American born player of all time.
He represented USA at four Olympics, winning silver in 2002, although again he disappeared on the big stage as he scored just 3 goals in 23 Olympic games. He had a good showing in the World Cup of Hockey, scoring 10 goals in 12 games over two tournaments. In 1996 he helped USA win the tournament.
Bottom line - there are far too many players in his generation that are already log-jamming the Hall of Fame process. Keith Tkachuk will have to wait quite awhile to make the cut, if he does at all.