Former Coyotes great Keith Tkachuk, among those honored recently at the Coyotes’ 20-year celebration, may be battling all kinds of thoughts today, in the aftermath of his son, Calgary Flames rookie Matthew, finding himself in the middle of a controversy.

Or perhaps he is perfectly proud of his son’s actions. We’re sure they’ve talked about things.

Dad was certainly a rough-edged player at times during his NHL career, but rarely played the game outside the lines of tough-guy etiquette. His hits, fights and physical play were intimidating but almost always within the understood, if unwritten, rules of conduct.

Matthew’s elbow to the face of the LA Kings’ Drew Doughty appeared deliberate, but could well have been in retaliation for something Doughty had done earlier in the game or during the season. Doughty has an opinion, calling the 19-year-old rookie a “dirty player.”

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From Tkachuk’s hometown paper, the Calgary Herald:

As Tkachuk waited for a puck to arrive along the end-boards in the offensive zone, he popped the reigning Norris Trophy winner with an elbow to the chops.

Doughty was slow to get up and retreated to the locker-room, but he was back in business for the start of the second.

“He’s a pretty dirty player, that kid. To be a rookie and play like that is a little surprising,” Doughty told LA Kings Insider. “I don’t know exactly what happened because I got hit in the head, but I thought he elbowed me. I can’t tell you for sure, so I’m not going to really say if I think anything should happen, but whatever it was, it hurt pretty bad and it’s going to hurt for a little bit.”

In the other locker-room, Tkachuk told reporters that he was simply trying to prevent Doughty from slipping around him and being able to interrupt the Flames’ cycle.

“I was just trying to protect the puck and he kind of jumped around and I extended my arm to protect it,” Tkachuk said. “I did the same thing to him earlier in the play, so I think he wanted to try to jump around it this time.”

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There have to be better ways, however, to stand up for yourself. Tkachuk has 46 points but also 96 minutes in penalties — eighth most in the NHL entering Monday’s action.

The NHL will have an explanation, along with possible disciplinary action.

For his part, Tkachuk received a two-minute roughing penalty but more punishment could be coming soon.


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