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TKACHUK SHRUGS OFF ‘INCIDENT' WITH GOALTENDER JACK CAMPBELL

Despite the Toronto Maple Leafs defeating the Calgary Flames 3-2 last night, there was some concern in Leafs nation as it appeared Jack Campbell may have been injured near the end of the game, due to a questionable play from none other than known pest Matthew Tkachuk.

The play in question happened with roughly 40 seconds left in the game, with Calgary pushing for an equalizer. After a brief scrum in front of the net, Tkachuk fell on Campbell after being pushed by former teammate and current Leaf, T.J. Brodie. As head coach Geoff Ward pointed out, had it been any player other than Tkachuk, it probably wouldn't be at all discussed, but given the player's reputation, many are questioning if the way he fell was intentional to attempt to injure the 29-year-old goaltender.


«Which one?» said Tkachuk when asked about the incident postgame. «I feel like there were a lot of scrums in front of the goalie throughout the game – which one are they making a big deal about this time?

«It was just a battle in front – I actually thought I tipped it and it went in. A 6-on-5 situation, just banging away at the puck. I live in that area – I live in that crease area throughout the games. I was just digging for a puck. I was battling with Brodes (Brodie) a little bit there and guys started coming in. I just got knocked over. Obviously I had no intention of falling into him or anything like that. It's just a classic thing to try to accuse me of there.»

Tkachuk, 23, is one of the bright young stars in the game. Since being drafted sixth overall in 2016, he has appeared in 297 career games, posting 239 points. Still, he is often talked about for some of his questionable hits, some of which fans view as dirty, rather than his skill due to how often these incidents seem to surround him. He made it clear last night that it doesn't surprise him when a fan base, players or media single him out for these incidents.

«I'd like to say no, but yes, I get surprised at some things that come out of peoples' mouths these days,» he said. «It's a good thing I don't listen to it. I just get asked about it from other people. Thank God I don't go on my phone too much after games, otherwise it would drive me crazy. I know my parents do and it drives them crazy. It's just classic.»

For what it's worth, Campbell himself was quick to downplay the incident after the game, saying he doesn't view Tkachuk as a dirty player.

«I don't look at him as a menace, I look at him as a really good hockey player,» he said on a postgame Zoom call.

It's clear at this point that whether or not fans like it, Tkachuk isn't going to change the way he plays. Flames fans certainly won't mind, as he has become a big time fan favorite since arriving in the NHL for the 2016-17 season. He is off to another solid start this season, registering three goals and four points in four contests.


COLTON PANKIW
JANUARY 25, 2021  (17H26)
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