It’s good to see Matthew Tkachuk succeed (but it’s understandable to be angry)

Photo credit:Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Middleton
1 year ago
Even though the Calgary Flames didn’t make the Stanley Cup playoffs, the team has been mentioned consistently due to the presence of the Florida Panthers in the Stanley Cup Final. Sam Bennett, Ryan Lomberg, and, most notably, Matthew Tkachuk are all playing a part in the team’s first trip to the Final since 1996.
Although they’ve all contributed in different ways, it’s Tkachuk that has taken the spotlight, even making an appearance on NBA on TNT before Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics alongside the usual crew of basketball legends Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley, Kenny “The Jet” Smith, and the lovable host Ernie Johnson. His three game-winning goals alone in the series against Carolina have made him a living legend in Sunrise.
Not only have Tkachuk’s playoff heroics skyrocketed him to more stardom than many could imagine, but his Hart Trophy-level regular season also did. He registered 40 goals and 109 points (31 more than the second-place player on the team, Aleksander Barkov), and his underlying offensive numbers were incredible, hitting above five standard deviations(!!!) in goals for per 60 (GF/60), expected goals for per 60 (xGF/60), and Corsi For per 60 (CF/60).
After the season that Tkachuk has had, it was only inevitable that the comparisons to the players he got traded for–Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar namely–were made, and unfortunately for Calgary fans, those guys are on the wrong end. Although Weegar ended up having a solid year and was one of the best defensive defensemen in the entire NHL in 2022-23, the historic drop off in points from Huberdeau after signing a massive long-term extension is the elephant in the room.
It’s a tough pill to swallow, and I don’t blame anyone for having sour grapes about a former Flame who didn’t want to re-sign long-term in Calgary being moved and having mounds of success while Calgary and one of its two newest toys didn’t make the playoffs, looks defective (although I’m confident that Huberdeau will bounce back), and are going through massive organizational changes, however good they may be. But I think it’s also important to acknowledge that Tkachuk still loves the city of Calgary, and he made positive remarks about former Flames general manager Brad Treliving on the post-game show, saying that he had the privilege to work with him and calling him an “unbelievable guy.”
The 25-year-old forward has done an incredible job of winning over the hearts of hockey fans across the landscape. Although he’s a player you hate to watch your team play against because of the possible “rule-bending actions” he might take, he’s also a player that plenty of fans have found a reason to root for. Throughout this entire playoff run, he has played like the player fans learned to love in Calgary while not sacrificing his skill to play the role of “enforcer” or take any cheap shots. He only has 24 penalty minutes in 16 post-season games so far. It’s still third on the team, but considering his other post-season totals outside of his final year in Calgary, I’d say he’s doing a pretty good job at staying out of the box consistently.
I know there are plenty of Flames fans out there that get a sour taste in their mouth when they see Tkachuk having success. It sucks that he couldn’t find this kind of success in Calgary and eventually wanted out. However, I think it’s also good to see him having this kind of success and developing into the player everyone thought he could be. It’s unfortunate that Calgary wasn’t a desirable place for him to stay, and it’s very possible that one of the reasons that caused him to leave is now gone. However, it’s important to note that we don’t know for sure.
Nonetheless, even though he didn’t want to remain in Calgary, I’d say it’s good to see Tkachuk having this kind of success and receiving this kind of good publicity because he’s a player that deserves it both for his body of work in Florida so far and the time he got developing in Calgary.

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