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After shaking the hockey world to its core this week with a blockbuster trade to the Florida Panthers, Matthew Tkachuk shared in an interview with Sportsnet that the decision to leave the Calgary Flames only came to fruition earlier this month, following much deliberation.
The 24-year-old told Sportsnet’s Eric Francis that after speaking with other teams around the league following the RFA period, he decided to think long and hard about his future with the Flames organization.
“There’s no single reason why I left at the end of the day,” he said. “I wanted to re-evaluate where I’m at and after talking to a few teams I did that and kind of came down to that conclusion.”
Prior to that, Tkachuk says he didn’t know what his decision would be. He did note, however, that a big part of signing a bridge deal back in 2019 was that it provided him the opportunity to eventually decide his own fate.
That choice, however, was by no means an easy one, according to the St. Louis native.
“I’m sitting here, very emotional about my time there in Calgary,” he told Francis. “I’m sad and happy. Very mixed... I’m sad I’m leaving so many great people in the city and the organization...
“I will always remember my time in Calgary as the most important and best years in my life," he added. “I’m leaving as a 24-year-old young man and I went in as an 18-year-old kid.”
As for how Florida eventually became the destination of choice for the superstar, Tkachuk says it was a combination of the Panthers' strong push for the power forward, as well as the club’s upward trajectory over the past few seasons.
“The chance to win was the most attractive,” Tkachuk said. “The sun, the beach, and all that stuff — don’t get me wrong, that’s unbelievably attractive, but the chance to win trumps it all.”
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