Flames’ Matthew Tkachuk molding into both lovable and hatable pest

The tell on the Matthew Tkachuk commentary Thursday is as easy to spot as a cheesy slew foot or a spear caught on camera.

If you read, or hear, someone say that they wouldn’t want Tkachuk on their team, that person is a fan boy. OK?

They say that because they don’t like the Flames. And they do love the Canucks, Leafs, Oilers, whomever…

The fact is, whatever you think about Tkachuk’s antics, only Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine are — at this point — clearly superior assets to come out of the 2016 draft. If you don’t want one of hockey’s premier 19-year-olds — who scores, hits, fights, pesters, and skates as well as Tkachuk does — your hockey acumen requires a reboot.

Eventually, players like Clayton Keller, Jesse Puljujarvi, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Mikhail Sergachev and a few others might horn in on the conversation. But on Dec. 7, 2017, the 2016 draft class goes Matthews, Laine, Tkachuk — full stop.

So we’ve established our respect for the asset, if not for some of the traits that Tkachuk currently exhibits. But, let’s face it: If I look back at my own decisions, they became infinitely wiser from age 19 to 23, and we’re sure the same thing will apply to the young Flames winger.

For now, however, we get “dumb decision” Tkachuk, who spent last season doling out cheesy slew-foots and a few unnecessary head shots, and this season has discovered the sneaky-dirty spear from a protected spot behind his front-of-the-line teammates. His latest came Wednesday while on the Flames’ bench, when Tkachuk discreetly issued a tacit spear to Toronto’s Matt Martin.

Tkachuk’s heart clearly wasn’t in it, though the Department of Player Safety was expected to put in a better effort when meting out supplementary discipline on Thursday.

“I didn’t feel it at the time but I guess if he’s going to do stuff like that he should make it count,” shrugged Martin. “It’s child’s play.”

Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock agreed, calling Tkachuk’s act, “junior hockey stuff.”

“He’ll learn over time,” said Babcock, adding: “He played a good game, he played hard. No reason for that stuff.”

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Source:: Sportsnet.ca


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