EDMONTON — A dirty, filthy, disgusting hit.
Strong, misguided words from a coach further steamed by the possibility he may also have lost the services of Patrik Laine moving forward.
Fact is, the Zapruder film has nothing on the video capturing Tkachuk’s latest controversy.
In a collision that has been — and will continue to be — slowed down and dissected frame-by-frame, the Calgary Flames winger knocked Scheifele from the Jets’ 4-1 loss less than six minutes into the game.
How someone can see the video and suggest it was targeted to hurt someone is an irresponsible way to try to rally the troops.
Then again, coaches always stick up for their players, especially when the Flames offender is such an easy target given his reputation for being in the middle of such controversies.
The all-Canadian matchup wasted little time getting spicy when Tkachuk’s neutral zone attempt to hit Scheifele into the boards saw his skate catch the lower left leg of the Jets star as he twisted awkwardly to avoid upper body contact.
Critics, like Maurice, will suggest he intended to use his skate to catch Scheifele.
Realists will see a hard-nosed player who simply attempted to finish his check while his target turned and collided with the boards.
“No absolutely not,” said Tkachuk, predictably, when asked if it was intentional in any way.
“I’m backchecking on him, and it’s such an accident. I felt terrible. He was turning away and my left skate had a little bit of the speed wobbles and I was moving too fast for myself. My left skate just collided and it looked like it jammed him up. His body was going one way, but the way I hit him his leg stayed the one way.”
He showed instant concern on the ice while being chirped by Jets players, checking in with Scheifele as he was being helped off the ice by Nathan Beaulieu and a trainer.
“He’s a top player in the NHL and someone I’ve come to know the past few summers training with Gary Roberts — such a great guy,” said Tkachuk, who was not assessed a penalty on the play.
“It’s not good for the game when somebody like that is not in the game. It was very unfortunate and unlucky and such an accident and I feel terrible about it, but there’s really nothing that could have happened. I don’t feel good about it, but hope he’s okay.”
It’s understandable the coach was steamed following a 4-1 loss that may cost him two top players, but to suggest the split-second collision was targeted in some fashion is irresponsible and born purely out of frustration.
After being told of Maurice’s vitriolic comments, Flames coach Geoff Ward respectfully disagreed.
“What he’s saying, I didn’t see that,” said Ward.
“I just looked at the incident. To me it looked like Mark decided to turn up, Chucky was trying to turn with him and I think he lost his balance a little bit and I think he got caught in a compromised position.”
Scheifele immediately dropped to the ice after the collision, writhing in pain as Tkachuk turned to check on the fallen winger before gesturing to an irate Winnipeg bench he did nothing wrong.
That’s when Tkachuk decided he’d attempt to try ending the silliness immediately.
On the same ice at Rogers Place on which he did his part to end all the “turtle talk” surrounding his Battle of Alberta hijinks, he chose to shed the gloves on Blake Wheeler’s next shift.
He followed up a brief conversation with Scheifele’s linemate by happily donning the mitts with the six-foot-five captain, whom Tkachuk promptly dropped with a solid right hand after a few exchanges.
Slow down video of the hit and pick any angle you want, any suggestion Tkachuk had any intent to do anything but finish his check is pure folly.
Yet the debate is sure to continue, especially if Scheifele does not.
It wouldn’t be the last Jets star to depart the game, as Laine left midway through the third after receiving a crosscheck from Mark Giordano who the Finn had buried seconds earlier.
Although Jets winger Andrew Copp scored shortly after the Scheifele injury, the Flames rebounded from one of their typically slow starts to take over a game in which they had just one shot on goal the first 15 minutes.
As Laine filled in unsuccessfully on the top trio, the Flames got three special teams goals in the second, kick-started by a Johnny Gaudreau power play finish that ended his nine game playoff goalless streak.
Tobias Rieder’s shorthanded breakaway conversion midway through the second was followed by Mikael Backlund’s power play snipe, which was made possible by a Cody Eakin penalty drawn by Tkachuk.
Although on the ice for Andrew Mangiapane’s empty netter, Tkachuk was held off the scoresheet in a game that had his fingerprints all over it.
Without Scheifele the Jets power play was 0-for-7 with just five shots on goal — all turned aside by not-so-surprising Flames starter Cam Talbot.
The 33-year-old Talbot allowed a game-opening snipe by Andrew Copp shortly after the Tkachuk incident, but stood tall after that, stopping 17 shots.
The Flames took over in the second period in a game Rieder said the lads worked hard to create their own energy on the bench in the absence of fans.
No one created more energy than Tkachuk, creating a buzz that will reverberate through the NHL right through until Game 2 Monday afternoon.