clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Matthew Tkachuk: Don’t Change.....But Change A Little.

The young winger faced his second suspension of the season Thursday night after his unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against the Maple Leafs on Wednesday.

NHL: Calgary Flames at Montreal Canadiens Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

The message is confusing. It’s like talking to a little kid and explaining something by saying “look, what you did was wrong, don’t do it again, but we get why you did it.” Now imagine being 19 and facing your second suspension and being called out by your coach in public:

In a round about way the Flames coach is correct. BUT, isn’t that why Matthew Tkachuk is a member of the Calgary Flames?

Love him or hate him you have to admit that Matthew Tkachuk is good. Sure, if you’re a team in the Western Conference, you hate him. If you are a fan of the Red Wings or Maple Leafs you hate him. You hate that he gets under your skin. You hate that he sits out in front of the net and occasionally bumps your goalie. You hate that he gets your players to take penalties (done that 18 times this season to lead the league). Most importantly, you hate that he’s not on YOUR team.

NHL teams through the years have had “pests” like Matthew Tkachuk. Hell, Calgary had Theo Fleury for years. No one was a bigger pest than Theo and Matthew Tkachuk falls right into that line. He’s a great skater, he’s got great hockey smarts, he can shoot, he can hit, he can fight, he can annoy. He’s really the whole package and he’s only 19 years old. The reaction across Twitter was ridiculous and funny all at the same time in regards to Tkachuk’s spear from the bench on Toronto’s Matt Martin, who by his own admission (or bravado) admitted, sort of, he didn’t even feel it:

We won’t post the HUNDREDS of Tweets from arm chair NHL’ers who want to “kick Tkachuk’s A&%” or think he’s “a <cat emoji>” or “can’t wait for him to get a concussion,” yeah, those are all legit comments from people sitting in the safety of their living rooms, rooting for a team not named Calgary and or Flames. And I get that. Tkachuk rubs people the wrong way and part of that reason is because he’s talented enough where he doesn’t necessarily need that “edge” in his game.

Was his spear “dirty”? Of course, completely unnecessary, but like it or not, it’s part of his game. And to his credit, he never runs from anything he starts. He’s not a cheap shot artist who whacks you and then runs behind the biggest goon for protection. He stands there and deals with what he’s done. 9 times out of 10, you’ll never hear me complain about something he’s done. His undercover shot at Martin, that crossed the line. There, I said it.

If you had to compare Matthew Tkachuk to someone he’s like Boston’s Brad Marchand. Yeah, you put up with some stupid stuff from Marchand, but when you look at his numbers, the trade off is worth it. The Bruins resident pest forward has been suspended 5 times and fined 3 times over 8 full seasons. Tkachuk has been suspended 3 times in 103 games, 2 of those coming this season and you have to think that every slight misstep will be gone over with a fine tooth comb by the league. Let’s not mince words here: Tkachuk isn’t a saint, but he’s not Matt Cooke, Ulf Samulesson or Todd Bertuzzi either.

The Flames GM Brad Treliving stood with his player today and they both addressed the media. Thachuk apologized for his actions as his GM (disapproving father look-a-like) looked on making sure all went according to plan. No more suspensions. No more nonsense. But behind closed doors it probably went a little more like this: “Matthew, don’t change how you play, but maybe change a little....”