Canadian division will be excellent for the game

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In a year in which he tested positive for COVID-19, battled the effects of a concussion, suffered another early exit from the playoffs, and stood squarely in the midst of several controversies , Matthew Tkachuk believes the NHL has found the perfect way for him to advance:
Nine or 10 battles of Alberta.

The man who single-handedly revived the provincial punch with a series of targeted explosions at Zack Kassian last season believes that a slate of 56 games in the All-Canadian division will be a boon to the odds for the game. .

“How great will that be for hockey?” smiled the future Flames captain, who is in quarantine in his Calgary apartment after returning to town last week.

“These games are very stimulating. Even people who don’t know much about hockey told me a lot about our games against Edmonton. I can’t believe how many people in Saint-Louis that I met wanted to talk about it. It’s the first thing they always ask me about – what these games are like. The Battle of Alberta officially took place outside that province – not just in Canada, but the rest of the United States. -watch television. ”

Tkachuk will undoubtedly be one of the central figures in an all-Canadian division where he is sure to solidify as one of the most hated players in six other zip codes.

The Flames’ main agitator / scorer has already done well to infuriate everyone in northern Alberta and the West Coast, not to mention Manitoba where his success at the start of a play-in series against Winnipeg knocked out Jets star Mark Scheifele of the series with one leg. injury.

Of all the things Tkachuk had to deal with, the strangest off-season, the fallout from that success was not one of them.

“We texted a few times to see how things were going and he knows it was a complete accident,” Tkachuk said of the awkward collision with Scheifele, one of his regular training partners. out of season.

“It was an unfortunate result of a hard-fought playoff series and a hard-fought start to the game, and you never want to see that happen. If you ask anyone, except probably one person, they know it was a complete accident. He knows me as an individual. He’s a great person and one of my favorite players to watch. I have a lot of respect for him.

Already in vintage form, there is this shot that he is so good at delivering.

The anonymous skeptic he was targeting is Jets coach Paul Maurice, who called the move dirty and intentional, which allowed for an interesting exchange between the two in the bubble a few days later.

Tkachuk told the Cam & Strick podcast several months ago that he opened a hotel door for Maurice and the coach was not looking the player in the eye. Frosty, like the reception he’s sure to get in every city, but without fans to stoke the fire of his match.

“From what I remember, we were in the middle of a playoff series so there wasn’t a lot of conversation from team to team,” he laughed.

Tkachuk spent the offseason in St. Louis where he first faced the aftermath of a concussion that kicked him out of the Flames’ second-round series early against Dallas.

A week after the Flames’ season ended, he was medically eliminated, adding to the frustration of another early playoff exit for a team that spat a series 12 seconds off the lead 3-1.

It was all part of an unforgettable year for Tkachuk, who publicly revealed for the first time that he had tested positive for COVID-19 just before the NHL’s return for the postseason.

” A big [spike] hit St. Louis from mid-June to the end of June, ”Tkachuk told Sportsnet.ca. “I didn’t feel for a few days, but nothing crazy. I was a little under the weather.

“It affects everyone differently. I took two weeks off home and arrived just in time for camp. No residual effect at all. ”

Tkachuk said he rarely talks about contracting the virus that many people he knows have contracted.

“It was just a weird time,” he says.

“My heart goes out to a lot of the lives that are affected – from those that are affected to some of these businesses that are affected. It’s so sad. I hope they can get over it and we can get back to normal as soon as possible. ”

The step towards normality moved a little closer on Sunday when the NHL and the Players’ Association announced that they had agreed on a shortened schedule that will allow her and her teammates to play the Canadian teams throughout the regular season. Camps begin for the Flames at the Saddledome on January 3, with the regular season set to begin January 13.

“My brother and I would talk about it, play and see each other more, which would be cool,” said Tkachuk of younger brother Brady of the Ottawa Senators.

“There are a lot of good teams in this division and great players. I don’t think there are a lot of teams that separate – a lot of star teams. It will be great for the game in these unprecedented times. Sign me up. ”

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