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Matthew Tkachuk: He’s Not Going To Back Down

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The 19 year old knew what was coming tonight and he handled his business.

Colorado Avalanche v Calgary Flames Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images

Matthew Tkachuk knew what was coming tonight when he took the ice for the Flames tilt with the LA Kings. And as you can see from the above Tweet and from watching the game, it started early. While stretching at centre ice, the Kings paid a visit to the Flames rookie to tell him exactly what they thought of his hit on Drew Doughty in their last meeting and his comments in the media prior to the game. The big boys surrounded him and kept the Kings back, but Tkachuk apparently doesn’t need their help.

When the Flames rookie hit the ice for his first shift, he immediately addressed the issue at hand by trying to drop the gloves with Jake Muzzin, who declined and skated away.

Tkachuk took a 2 minute penalty and used that time to think about what he wanted to do next. He did this:

Tkachuk went out and got the fight he was looking for with LA’s Brayden McNabb. McNabb is a 6’4”, 216 LB veteran defenceman for the Kings. He’s got 2 inches and 14 LBS on Tkachuk, but that didn’t matter to the Flames rookie. McNabb won the fight, but Tkachuk continued on.

Tkachuk came cruising towards centre ice and saw Drew Doughty and lined him up......and missed, but his attempted hit on Doughty got things even more heated and that’s what Tkachuk does best. Matthew Tkachuk, just Tkachuk’in, got Andy Andreoff of the Kings boiling and he went after Matthew after the play. The result? No penalty for Tkachuk, but he drew a 2 minute minor for Roughing on Andreoff, as well as a 10 minute misconduct AND a 10 minute game misconduct, earning Andreoff the gate for the evening.

In the end, the Kings took down the Flames 4-1 and Calgary will have to wait another day to clinch a birth in the 2016-17 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but something else happened. Matthew Tkachuk showed the NHL that he is willing to handle his problems on his own. Yes, the hit on Doughty in their last meeting wasn’t pretty (I’d say the suspension was earned). Yes, he talked some smack before the game tonight and he knew he was going to have a target on his back all game. And with all that weighing on him, he didn’t ask Deryk Engelland or Micheal Ferland to have his back. He took his medicine and went out there and faced it head on. Pretty impressive stuff for a 19 year old kid. I know what I was doing when I was 19 and it sure wasn’t anything that heady.

Now, you could argue that Tkachuk brought this all on himself with his style of play and running his mouth a bit before the game. Chalk the last part up to youthful exuberance. The former is just part of his game that the league will have to get used to. I think Tkachuk’s talents and vision on the ice clearly outweigh some of the borderline things he does as a player. As fans, we’re going to be treated to some dazzling offence, but we’re also going to have game like tonight where he’s the target because of something he’s done along the way.

The rest of the league can hate him. That’s fine. They’re mad because they don’t have him. Five teams, Ok, maybe 4 (exclude the Leafs), passed on Tkachuk in the NHL Draft and he fell to the Flames like a gift from the gods. He plays a borderline style of hockey at times, but his feeling for the game is off the charts for a 19 year old kid. Let’s also be clear on something: it’s not like Tkachuk goes out there every single shift targeting people or looking to do something dirty. Remember, he had that long run of 17 games where he only collected 2 PIM. So to think or conclude that he’s a “dirty” player I think is slighty off. Yes, he plays with an edge and toes that line at times, but I don’t think that makes him dirty.

So yes, hate him, roll your eyes, shake your first and mumble about his “dirty” play all you want. If he was on your team, you’d be in love with him and you know it. And know this: Matthew Tkachuk takes on his own problems by himself. He doesn’t need anyone to fight his battles for him. You have an issue with him, bring it up and he’ll deal with it man to man. That’s what happened tonight and I’m sure that if it happens again, the result will be the same. Matthew Tkachuk is his own player and he doesn’t need anyone to fight his battles for him.