The Winnipeg Jets are very, very, angry with Matthew Tkachuk.
The fallout from Game 1 of the Western Conference Qualifying Round series between the aforementioned Jets and the Calgary Flames has been considerable but no single incident has caused more drama that the one involving Tkachuk, a forward for the Flames, and Jets forward Mark Scheifele. Tkachuk and Scheifele were involved in a collision on Saturday that resulted in what looks like a rather serious injury to Scheifele, however there has been some question about whether or not Tkachuk himself deserves any blame for the hit. Before we get too much further into this story, here's a look at the actual hit itself:
Following the game Jets head coach called out Tkachuk by stating flatly that Tkachuk's actions had been both dirty and intentional, for his full comments you can check out our earlier report here. Those comments however resulted in some backlash from former NHL players like Chris Wideman and Mike Rupp, both of whom implied that the accusations being levied by Maurice were out of line and unwarranted, although they chose to use some more colorful language. Those rebuttals from seemingly neutral observers with a long history in the NHL has not appeared to phase the Jets however, and in fact now Maurice and one of his players in Adam Lowry have doubled down on their accusations against Tkachuk.
Lowry seemingly endorsed everything his coach had said and called the incident an intentional one as well.
"I agree with what Paul said last night," said Lowry. "I don't think it's accidental. I think it's intentional. I don't know if he meant to try and cut him but it's one of those players where, how often does your skate come off the ice and land on a guy's ankle? So that's where I stand on it."
Maurice effectively reiterated his previous comments adding that, although he does not think that Tkachuk hit the ice with the intention of injuring Scheifele, he believes Tkachuk saw an ippurtunity to injure a key player on the opposing team and took it.
"I don’t think he came off the bench and said, 'Hey I’m going to see if I can go stab the back of Mark Scheifele’s leg with my skate.' I think he got to that point and I think that’s exactly what he did," said Maurice.
Again some very serious accusations on the part of Maurice, but based on the fact that the NHL does not appear poised to discipline TKachuk and that former players disagree, it does not sound like the accusations made by the Jets are garnering much support.
Update: Funnily enough for Winnipeg Jets beat reporter Gary Lawless, who now covers the Golden Knights, was asked about the Tkachuk/Scheifele incident and it sounds like he is far from convinced that this was an intentional play.