Tyler Motte started playing hockey because his big brother, C.J., did.
Like most younger siblings he wanted to mimic his older brother in every way. If C.J. was a goalie, Tyler was going to be, too. Their folks had different ideas.
“My parents said, ‘No, one’s enough in the family,’” Motte recalled. “So I stuck with forward, which might have been the better play for a 5-foot-9 guy.”
Yes, forward has worked out pretty well for Motte, who recorded his first career NHL point in his first career NHL game on Wednesday night. The Port Huron, Mich., native had a great night with family in attendance. His parents and grandparents were there as was his brother, who made the trip from Quad Cities – C.J. is the goaltender for the Quad City Mallards.
From the start of camp through his first pro game, Motte has been impressive. Could his early work earn him a promotion? The Blackhawks’ made some line changes on Thursday, and one of them was moving Motte up to the second line with Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane (Artemi Panarin was moved to the top line). As for those potential new lines, coach Joel Quenneville said, “we’re looking at it.”
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Even if Motte stays on that third line, he looked good with Marcus Kruger and Ryan Hartman, who scored his first career goal on Wednesday. Motte and Kruger have also bonded during their penalty killing.
“From day 1 when I got here he’s played great and he’s getting better and better, more comfortable,” Kruger said. “I mean he’s a smart player. You can tell he learns quickly. I think he’s going to be a good player for us.”
When Motte did switch from goaltender to forward the competition between he and his brother was natural.
“We still have the cement basement. My dad painted the lines on the rink, red line, blue line, goal lines down there, so plenty of memories down there playing roller hockey, shooting at each other,” said Motte who, like C.J. in 2014, was a Top 10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Award in 2016. “It was good experience to have that available. Good memories overall.”
Motte has come a long way in a short amount of time. There will be ups and downs for him as he goes; it’s just natural for any player, but especially a rookie. From his time at the University of Michigan to his first few weeks here, however, Motte has learned plenty and has won over the Blackhawks. And it all started with following big brother.
“It was definitely good for him to get me involved,” Motte said. “And lot of credit to my parents for letting me follow that path.”