There have been some pretty heinous accusations levied against Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk, but it sounds like many with intimate knowledge of the game do not feel those accusations are warranted.
For those of you who missed our earlier report on this topic, Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice called out Tkachuk following Game 1 of their Qualifying Round matchup after Tkachuk was involved in an incident with Jets forward Mark Scheifele, an incident that appears to have left Scheifele with a serious injury. It is clear, based on the comments made by Paul Maurice, that the Jets believe that the incident was no accident, but instead was a deliberate and calculated attempt to injure on the part of the notorious Flames forward.
"It was intentional," said Maurice. "It was a filthy, dirty, kick to the back of the leg. You can't see it on the program feed but you take the blue line feed and you zoom in, he went after the back of his leg and could have cut of his achilles. He could have ended a man's career, it's an absolutely filthy, disgusting, play."
Those are some rather serious accusations and they leave no doubt about how the Jets feel in regards to this situation, but the question is of course do their feelings line up with reality? Maurice claims to have had the benefit of additional camera angles, and we have to take him at his word on that, but despite that several former players from the National Hockey League are not at all convinced that this was an intentional move on the part of Tkachuk.
Former forward Mike Rupp just straight up called out Paul Maurice for making what he described as a careless accusation against another player.
"Mark Scheifele is one of my favorite players to watch in the game... with that said, to suggest that Matthew Tkachuk had “intention” in that hit is absolutely ridiculous! Terrible result, but that’s a careless accusation to make," said Rupp.
Another former NHL player in Chris Wideman suggested that there were very few people in the league who would be able to make a split second adjustment of that nature, remember this would have had to be a decision made in real time and not in the time-frame of the slow motion replay we have all witnessed, adding that Tkachuk was not one of those people.
"Lot of Matthew Tkachuk bullshit out there right now," said Wideman. "He’s not even capable of intentionally hurting someone with his skates in that situation. No disrespect but there are a small % of players that can skate well enough to do that intentionally and he ain’t one of them."
Tkachuk himself has flat out denied the accusation that he somehow intentionally injured Scheifele and even added that he respects Scheifele and has gotten to know him somewhat as a result of the two men training together at times under legendary hockey trainer Gary Roberts during the offseason. Tkachuk called this incident a terrible accident and expressed concern for Scheifele's well being, and frankly I suspect that this is by far the most likely scenario.
I suspect that at least on some level Paul Maurice may believe this as well but after losing 2 of his top forwards in Game 1, Scheifele was hurt and Jets forward Patrik Laine also appeared to suffer an injury late in the game, he may merely be looking for a way to light a fire under his remaining players.