Toronto Maple Leafs cannot let Matthew Tkachuk set tone

Matthew Tkachuk #19 of the Calgary Flames shoves John Tavares #91 of the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
Matthew Tkachuk #19 of the Calgary Flames shoves John Tavares #91 of the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images) /

It is no surprise to see the reaction to Matthew Tkachuk crashing the net and ending up on top of Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell.

Since he entered the league, Tkachuk has been one of the more effective players when it comes to getting under the skin of the opposition. Of course, Leafs fans weren’t too pleased to see nothing being done by the referees or the players on the ice.

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If you have watched the legendary feud between Tkachuk and Drew Doughty or the Battle of Alberta moments from last season, there is a right and wrong way to approach Tkachuk’s style of play. His goal is to not only annoy his opposition but let himself be the centre of attention even when he thinks people are just accusing him of dirty play because it’s easy to do.

"“I’d like to say no, but yes, I get very surprised at some things that come out of peoples’ mouths these days,” Tkachuk said when asked if he is surprised when he gets called out for his style of play. . “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 Leafs fans wondering if the team plans to do anything about the situation, nothing the team said after practice would suggest it. Of course, there was concern about Campbell missing practice and being evaluated after he was dealing with an injury at the end of Sunday’s game.

When you look back at the play, it’s obvious that Tkachuk knew he was landing on Campbell and while he and it doesn’t look good when he catches him with his knee on the back of his head. None of the Leafs players appeared to push Tkachuk and if it wasn’t for Zach Bogosian who knows whether the Flames forward would’ve gotten off Campbell right away.

Leafs fans certainly have a reason to be upset about the way the situation unfolded considering there was no penalty on the play. Also, Tkachuk and Flames coach Geoff Ward’s reaction to questions about the incident wasn’t very convincing either considering it wasn’t a harmless play.

Toronto Maple Leafs can’t let Matthew Tkachuk’s antics get in their heads

Listening to the Leafs answer questions should give you confidence in how they will respond on Tuesday. We have seen players like Zack Kassian and Drew Doughty go after Tkachuk and it didn’t yield the results they expected.

Tkachuk predictably went after Mitch Marner on Sunday and that will probably happen again if the two are on the ice. The best thing Marner can do is not retaliate which is what Tkachuk wants and you have to hope that none of the Leafs make it a point to go after him unless they feel it’s absolutely necessary.

Another development from practice was that Jason Spezza will get some rest while Travis Boyd and Joey Anderson could play in their first game of the season. As David Alter of the Hockey News reported, Ilya Mikheyev and Zach Hyman got bumped up to the top six, alternating on the left side of the top two lines in favour of Jimmy Vesey.

With the next three games on the road, the Leafs will need to get other players into the lineup. It’ll be interesting to see whether Rasmus Sandin makes it into the lineup at some point but it seems like the Leafs are being patient with their top prospect.

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What are your thoughts on the Tkachuk situation? How should the Leafs handle the situation? Let us know in the comments below.