It’s probably safe to say at this point that Calgary Flames rookie forward Matthew Tkachuk is a player that plays on the edge. One third of one of the best lines in the entire National Hockey League, a lot of Tkachuk’s effectiveness is derived from his ability to crash, bang, and generally tick off everybody he plays against. He’s a player that plays on the very line of what’s acceptable in the game.
He may have stepped over the line in last night’s game against the Los Angeles Kings. Here’s what happened between him and Kings defender Drew Doughty late in the first period: a back elbow smash that would make former pro wrestler Kevin Nash proud.
— Dennis Bernstein (@DennisTFP) March 20, 2017
No penalties were called on the elbow specifically, though Tkachuk was given a coincidental minor for roughing as a result of the ensuing scrum in the corner. As you could imagine, Doughty was not happy with the play after the game.
Doughty, on the Tkachuk hit: "He's a pretty dirty player, that kid." His quotes on the play at the end of the first period: pic.twitter.com/D1TIuogKPB
— Jon Rosen (@lakingsinsider) March 20, 2017
Under the CBA and the NHL’s rules, the league has the right to review any (and every) incident to determine if something was missed and, if so, impose supplementary discipline. The severity of the discipline varies due to many factors, most prominent of which are usually whether a player was injured on the play and whether a player has flouted the rules repeatedly.
Tkachuk didn’t injure Doughty, but the second point kind of hurts him because a simple search of Google or Twitter shows a series of fan (and occasionally media) complaints about Tkachuk’s conduct. The NHL’s Player Safety people did review a slewfoot late in a game in January against Toronto, but Tkachuk received no official discipline. He’s had several incidents where he probably got a stern lecture from somebody, but he’s never been fined or suspended.
Under the CBA, there are four options available to discipline a player:
At this point, after so many near-miss brushes with Player Safety, it would probably be prudent for Tkachuk to get fined – if only so that future incidents can’t be brushed off with pleas that he doesn’t have a record.
Update: He’s getting a hearing.
Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk will have a hearing today for elbowing Los Angeles’ Drew Doughty.
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) March 20, 2017