Suspended forward Matthew Tkachuk was manning the left wing for the wrong guy Thursday, standing side by side with Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving for a pre game chat with reporters in Montreal.
On the opposite side of a concrete wall, his Flames teammates — including his buddies on the so called 3M Line — were suiting up for a showdown with the homestanding Canadiens at Bell Centre.
And there was the 19 year old Tkachuk, looking both serious and a tad sheepish, flanking his boss and facing questions about the silly spear that resulted in a one game banishment for unsportsmanlike conduct.
“I think most of you that cover us know my feelings about this guy — he’s a big part of what we’re doing here now and what we’re going to do in the future,” Treliving said, Tkachuk listening carefully to his left. “It was a stupid play Wednesday night, and it puts himself and his teammates in a poor position. So we’ve dealt with it now, and we move on.
“He’s a young guy that is going to learn, but we don’t like the act. The guy involved, we love and we support him 1,000 percent. But you can’t have those things. You just can’t have that stuff.”
It’s oh so rare for an executive and one of the skating staffers to address the media together.
Perhaps, the Flames are hoping that a sprinkling of public admonishment with help hammer home the message to the talented and tenacious teen Matt Bartkowski Jersey, already suspended three times in just 14 months of NHL employment.
Tkachuk wasn’t even on the ice for his latest transgression. He reached from the bench to spear Toronto Maple Leafs fourth liner Matt Martin during a first period scrum Wednesday at Air Canada Centre.
Despite his criticism of that decision, though https://www.cgyflamesfans.com/micheal-ferland-jersey-c-20.html, this was mostly a show of support from Treliving, who stressed the Flames are not trying to restrain the fiery competitor from playing his feisty brand of hockey.
“Let’s remember, too https://www.cgyflamesfans.com/sam-bennett-jersey-c-22.html, this is a 19 year old young man. I’d hate for us to go back in time and figure out some of the stuff I did at 19,” Treliving said. “There’s not too many guys who play as hard as this guy, at this age in this league. So you learn from it. He plays on the edge, and you have to learn to straddle it.
“There’s stuff you live with, by all means. But the stuff that doesn’t help you or your team … Sitting on the bench https://www.cgyflamesfans.com/troy-brouwer-jersey-c-21.html, doing that stuff? Ok, let’s knock that out and let’s just get on with it. He understands. He’s a smart guy. I don’t think we’re going to be talking about this stuff anymore.
“But he’s a big part of our team. To me, he’s one of the engines that drives us. That’s what we talked about Thursday — not only does it put you in a bad light, but you’re missing a game, a real important game that we gotta get some points out of. He’s a driver, and we want him on the ice, not sitting here — no disrespect — talking with you guys with me.”
Tkachuk, too, did his fair share of talking Thursday.
He had a morning phone hearing with the NHL’s justice department, his second chat with league disciplinarians in the span of only three weeks.
At the Flames’ pre scout meeting, he apologized to his teammates.
Surrounded by a handful of reporters outside the visitors’ locker room at Bell Centre, he didn’t dispute Treliving’s assertion that his spear on Martin was a “stupid play.”
In fact, he spit out those same words himself.
“Being from the bench, I knew right away it wasn’t going to go over too well,” said Tkachuk, who also served a one game suspension in mid November for his part in sparking a skirmish with a whack at the leg of Detroit Red Wings tough guy Luke Witkowski. “So I tried to, I don’t know, make up for it the rest of the game by playing hard.
“My past two things with the league have come with stuff after the whistle. With me, I just have to keep playing the same game from whistle to whistle, play hard. I think that’s when I’m at my best and I think that’s when our team is at our best, as well, when I’m playing like that and everybody is playing the way they should be playing.”
Like Treliving, Tkachuk was anxious to turn the page.
“Whether it’s Tre, my family, my teammates, my agent … I just put them in kind of a tough spot,” Tkachuk said. “It obviously bothers me, just the act itself. I just wanted to apologize to everybody involved today and you move on, get this over with.”
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