Maurice was wrong to suggest that Tkachuk intentionally injured Scheifele


EDMONTON – A dirty, dirty, disgusting hit.

That’s how Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice portrayed Matthew Tkachuk’s quick shot on Mark Scheifele that could very well prevent the injured Jets star from returning this season.

The strong and misguided words of a coach are even more excited about the possibility that he too may have lost Patrik Laine’s services in the future.

The point is, Zapruder’s film has nothing on the video capturing Tkachuk’s latest controversy.

In a collision that was – and will continue to be – slowed down and dissected frame by frame, the Calgary Flames winger knocked Scheifele out of the Jets’ 4-1 loss less than six minutes into the game.

How someone can see the video and suggest that it was targeted to hurt someone is an irresponsible way of trying to rally the troops.

Then again, the coaches always defend their players, especially when the Flames offender is such an easy target given his reputation for being in the midst of such controversies.

The all-Canadian game wasted little time getting spicy when Tkachuk’s neutral zone attempt to hit Scheifele in the boards saw his skate catch the Jets star’s lower left leg as he awkwardly twisted to avoid any contact with the upper body.

Critics, like Maurice, will suggest he intended to use his skate to catch Scheifele.

Realists will see an uncompromising player who simply attempted to complete his test as his target rolled over and collided with the boards.

“No, absolutely not,” Tkachuk said, predictably, when asked if this was intentional in any way.

“I double-check it, and it’s such an accident. I was feeling bad. It was turning around and my left skate had a bit of swing speed and I was moving too fast for me. My left skate just collided and it looked like it had stuck it. His body was going one way, but the way I hit him his leg was still going.

He showed instant worry on the ice when being chirped by Jets players, checking in with Scheifele as he was helped off the ice by Nathan Beaulieu and a coach.

“He’s a top player in the NHL and someone I’ve known over the past few summers in training with Gary Roberts – such a great guy,” said Tkachuk, who did not receive a penalty for the game.

“It’s not good for the game when someone like that is not in the game. It was very miserable and unlucky and such an accident and I feel bad about it, but there really is nothing that could have happened. I’m not feeling well, but I hope he’s okay.

It’s understandable that the coach was set ablaze after a 4-1 loss that could cost him two top players, but to suggest that the split-second collision was somehow targeted is irresponsible and born out of frustration.

After being briefed on Maurice’s vitriolic comments, Flames coach Geoff Ward respectfully disagreed.

“What he said, I didn’t see it,” Ward said.

“I just watched the incident. To me it looked like Mark had decided to introduce himself, Chucky was trying to shoot with him and I think he lost his balance a bit and I think he got caught in a compromised position.

Scheifele immediately fell onto the ice after the collision, writhing in pain as Tkachuk turned to check the fallen winger before signaling to an enraged Winnipeg bench that he had done nothing wrong.

It was then that Tkachuk decided he would try to end the silliness immediately.

On the same ice at Rogers Place where he did his part to put an end to all the “turtle talk” surrounding his Battle of Alberta hijinks, he chose to throw the gloves off on the next shift of Blake Wheeler.

He followed up on a brief conversation with Scheifele’s line-mate as he happily put on the mittens with the six-foot-five captain, whom Tkachuk quickly let go with a solid right hand after a few exchanges.

Slow down the success video and choose the angle you want, any suggestion that Tkachuk was intending to do anything other than finish his check is sheer madness.

Still, the debate is sure to continue, especially if Scheifele doesn’t.

He wouldn’t be the last Jets star to leave the game, as Laine left halfway through the third after receiving a countercheck from Mark Giordano whom the Finn had buried seconds earlier.

Although Jets winger Andrew Copp scored shortly after Scheifele’s injury, the Flames rebounded from one of their generally slow starts to resume a game in which they only had one shot on goal. the first 15 minutes.

As Laine unsuccessfully filled the top line, the Flames netted three special-team goals in the second, started by a power play from Johnny Gaudreau that ended his nine-game scoreless streak in the playoffs.

Tobias Rieder’s breakaway conversion to a penalty kill in the middle of the second was followed by sniper Mikael Backlund, made possible by a Cody Eakin penalty shot by Tkachuk.

Despite being on the ice for Andrew Mangiapane’s empty net, Tkachuk was kept off the scoresheet in a game that had his fingerprints all over the place.

Without Scheifele, the Jets ‘power play was 0 for 7 with just five shots on goal – all dismissed by the Flames’ not-so-surprising debutant Cam Talbot.

Talbot, 33, cleared an Andrew Copp sniper shortly after the Tkachuk incident but stood up after that, stopping 17 shots.

The Flames took over in the second half in one game, Rieder said, the guys worked hard to build their own energy on the bench in the absence of fans.

No one has created more energy than Tkachuk, creating a buzz that will ripple through the NHL until Game 2 on Monday afternoon.


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