The Winnipeg Jets are not happy with Matthew Tkachuk and it sounds like based on the comments made by Jets head coach Paul Maurice following Game 1 we can expect that the Jets will be targeting Tkachuk throughout the remainder of this series.
The controversy surrounding Tkachuk stems from an injury suffered by Winnipeg Jets star forward Mark Scheifele during the opening period of Game 1, one that left the veteran forward in agony on the ice. It was difficult to judge the source of the injury as Scheifele's skate had appeared to jam up against the boards, causing his legs to buckle and his momentum carried him forward, but there were some who suspected that Tkachuk may have been more involved than initially met the eye. I must admit I was not one of those who suspected that Tkachuk's skate could have been the source of the injury, but based on the comments made by the Jets today I am no longer certain of that.
Here's what Maurice had to say, and there's no doubt about what the Jets coach is thinking here or how he feels about Matthew Tkachuk.
"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."
For his part though Tkachuk has completely denied any notion that he intentionally injured Scheifele and has even pointed to the fact that he grew to respect Scheifele as both men trained with legendary hockey trainer Gary Roberts during the offseason. I must admit it would be rather difficult for a player to make the kind of adjustment required to deliver such a blow intentionally at real speed in the NHL, but the Jets have access to camera angles that we do not have the benefit of seeing, so I suppose I will have to take Maurice at his word here.
You can see the replay for yourself, from the camera angles that Maurice says do not properly show the intent, in the clip below.