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‘Junior hockey stuff’: Matthew Tkachuk earns hearing for spear on Martin (Video)

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Matt Martin would like you to know that he’s fine. That spear from the bench by Matthew Tkachuk during Wednesday night’s game? He didn’t even feel it. In fact, he wasn’t even aware of it until after Toronto’s 2-1 shootout win over Calgary when the media requested to talk to him about the incident.

It was during a late first period scrum in front of the Flames’ bench that Tkachuk jabbed his stick into Martin’s midsection.

That wasn’t missed by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety, which announced that Tkachuk, who wasn’t penalized, will have a hearing on Thursday.

Martin, who didn’t want to offer an opinion on whether Tkachuk should be punished, did have some advice for the young forward.

“I guess if he’s going to do stuff like that he should probably make it count,” he said. “It’s whatever. That’s child’s play. I don’t really get involved in that kind of stuff.”

Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock wasn’t a fan either.

“The guys told me in-between periods. I mean, whatever, that’s junior hockey stuff,” he said. “He’ll learn over time. You gotta give Tkachuk credit, he played a good game, he played hard. No reason for that stuff.”

Tkachuk, a well-know shift disturber around the league, has had a busy first few months of the season in the area of discipline. He was suspended one game in November for inciting a brouhaha between the Flames and Detroit Red Wings, which earned Luke Witkowski a 10-game ban. Just 10 days later he was on the receiving end of a Gabriel Landeskog cross-check to the head that caused the Colorado Avalanche captain to sit for four games.

Already holding repeat offender status, Tkachuk will likely find himself sitting out at least one game for this.

UPDATE: One game ban for Tkachuk.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Patrick Marleau makes emotional return to San Jose

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The roars were boisterous and the memories were savored as Patrick Marleau made his return to San Jose Monday night as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Marleau, who signed a three-year deal with the Leafs over the summer, said recently he wasn’t sure how he’d react to the reception at SAP Center and the video tribute detailing the best moments of his 20 years in teal. After plenty of cheers during warmups, the Sharks paid tribute to their long-time captain before puck dropped in the first period.

The return of the fan favorite even brought out some beloved Sharks alums.

Marleau played 1,493 games for the franchise after being selected second overall in the 1997 NHL Draft. Over that span he scored 508 goals and recorded 1,082 points in San Jose. He’s currently the franchise’s leader in goals, points, power play goals, shorthanded goals, games played, among other categories.

“It was pretty unbelievable to have that type of ovation,” Marleau said to Sportsnet after the first period. “All the signs out there, all the fans, pretty humbling, to say the least.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Confusion reigns after Jonathan Quick concussion protocol episode

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The end of the first period in Monday’s Maple Leafs-Kings game brought us a big moment of confusion involving LA goaltender Jonathan Quick.

With three minutes to play, Quick took a blow to the head during a scramble in front of his net. He fell backwards into his crease, and grabbed at his mask, clearly shaken up. Play resumed for another 109 seconds before officials notified the Kings that the goaltender needed to leave the game after the independent concussion spotters called in a mandatory evaluation.

After some confusion and hesitance from Quick, he left the game and Darcy Kuemper entered for only 37 seconds before Quick returned.

“I don’t know what the [expletive] happened there,” Quick said via the LA Times. “I don’t know what happened. You have to ask the league.”

Kings head coach John Stevens explained just what happened after the game.

Via Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider:

“[A]s we were getting Darcy ready to go in the net, they said they’ve reviewed it a second time and he doesn’t have to come out, so when we tried to put him back in the net, the referees come over said that if there’s an injury on the ice, he has to come out for one play, and I said, ‘well, he’s not injured. We were doing what we were told from the league,’ and then they came over after and said, ‘you know what? That’s never happened before.’ So that was the read on it, which is respectful. I mean, they were doing what they thought was right. We just didn’t like a guy going in with a minute left in the period. So, everybody was just doing what they were told, and in the end, we wanted to put Jonny back in because we were told he could, but then they deemed at that point that he was an injured player and had to come out for one play.”

Stevens added that Quick wasn’t evaluated for a concussion because once the spotters determined the goaltender didn’t have to come out there was no need to look at him. He also said that the entire situation was “disruptive” and the Kings want to know why he wasn’t pulled immediately if the spotters saw something.

Here’s the official wording from the NHL/NHLPA Concussion Evaluation Management Protocol:

“Removal and evaluation of a Player will be required if the Central League Spotter determines that a mandatory evaluation is warranted, even if the In-Arena League Spotter and/or Club personnel disagree that a visible sign or a mechanism of injury has occurred or been exhibited. If the Central League Spotter communicates a visible sign triggering an evaluation in the discretion of the Club’s medical personnel, and the Club’s medical personnel did not see the event, such Club medical personnel shall, as soon as reasonably possible following the communication (for example, during the next television time-out or intermission if the next break in play is the intermission), check in with the Player or review the video clip of the event, or both, to determine if an acute evaluation is warranted.”

Dive deeper into that protocol and you’ll see that Quick’s clutching of his head was an immediate trigger for the spotter to call down for a removal.

A source told Sportsnet that the reason why Quick didn’t need an evaluation was that it was determined he was hit in the head by either Zach Hyman or Derek Forbert’s stick on the play. Maybe a glancing blow to the head from a stick isn’t the same as an elbow, forearm or shoulder, but it’s still a hit to the head, no? And wouldn’t that be worthy of at least some sort of evaluation, especially given the goaltender’s reaction?

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

The Buzzer: Sharks dominate at MSG; Leafs edge Kings

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Player of the Night: Martin Jones, San Jose Sharks

The Sharks netminder stood tall Monday night during a 4-1 win over the New York Rangers. Jones stopped 33 shots as San Jose won their fourth consecutive game. Logan Couture recorded two points, which included his 200th career NHL assist. He now has six goals and nine points in four games.

Highlight of the Night:

Lovely shorthanded finish here by Trevor Lewis to help the Los Angeles Kings cut the Toronto Maple Leafs lead to 3-2 late in their game:

MISC:

• Congrats to Tim Heed for scoring his first NHL goal.

• New York’s power play failed on all six opportunities.

• The Rangers have won only twice in eight home games this season.

Frederik Andersen stopped 36 shots and Patrick Marleau recorded his fourth of the year as the Maple Leafs edged the Kings 3-2.

• Marleau’s goal stood as the game-winner and was the 99th of his career, good for eighth all-time.

• A weird sequence in the first period saw Jonathan Quick take an elbow to the head and be briefly forced from the game due to a concussion spotter’s call. Oddly, it took several minutes for Quick to be removed from the game, and then he was only off the ice for whistle.

Factoid of the Night: 

Monday’s scores:

San Jose 4, New York Rangers 1

Toronto 3, Los Angeles 2

Leafs’ Marleau becomes 18th NHL player to reach 1,500-game milestone

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Patrick Marleau’s three-year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs will end two months before his 41st birthday, a summer when many believe his NHL career will come to an end.

But as he celebrated game No. 1,500 Wednesday night against the Detroit Red Wings, the veteran forward was talking about reaching another kind of milestone.

“I’m going to keep going as long as I can,” he said Wednesday morning via Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston. “I don’t know if my wife’s ready to have me at home full-time yet. If I feel good and still think I can contribute then I’ll keep it going.”

Marleau is the 18th player in NHL history to reach the 1,500 game mark. Should he stay healthy and play the entire 82-game slate or close to that, he’ll enter the 2018-19 season 11th all-time in that category. Gordie Howe holds the record with 1,767 games played.

Health has helped the 38-year-old Marleau reach the mark in his 20th NHL season. He hasn’t missed a regular game since the 2008-09 season and hasn’t played fewer than 74 games in a full season in his entire career.

Marleau has gone from being the youngest player in the league to the sixth-oldest in the span of 20 years and considering his history of good health, better fitness regiments of players and treatment by training staffs, challenging Howe may not be a crazy idea.

Of course, that is unless Jaromir Jagr sticks around. If that happens then Marleau would likely have to settle for No. 2.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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