The 21-year-old Tkachuk has only been in the league for three years but has already earned himself quite the reputation as being one of the NHL’s most irritating players to play against, and no one seems to share that opinion more (publicly, anyway) than Doughty.
On Monday, he was asked about the “rivalry” that currently exists between the Flames and Kings only to downplay it as nothing more than Tkachuk going after him all the time.
“Our rivalry is not even close with this team compared to other teams,” said Doughty. “I think most of it is just because of Tkachuk going after me is why the rivalry kind of started. We never really had a playoff series against this team, never really had any big games against this team, so I think the rivalry just kind of started with all that [expletive].”
He did not stop there.
Doughty also said, via Sportsnet’s Eric Francis, that he has “no respect” for the Flames’ forward and that he will never talk to him off the ice, while also adding that Tkachuk is not respected by most players in the league.
This is not the first time Doughty has publicly sounded off on Tkachuk or cited other players in the league not respecting the Flames’ forward.
A lot of this started during Tkachuk’s rookie season when he earned a two-game suspension for elbowing Doughty in the head, sparking this reaction from the Kings’ defender.
“He’s a pretty dirty player, that kid. To be a rookie and play like that is a little surprising. 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 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.”
This is the play that resulted in the two-game suspension.
The feud has only continued to escalate from there, including this little exchange in the penalty boxes early in the 2017-18 season…
… which was followed by Doughty saying later in that year that he is “pretty sure” Tkachuk is the most hated player in the NHL.
“I’m pretty sure he might be,” Doughty told Francis back in January, 2018. “I have lots of friends on other teams and they don’t love him either. But whatever, that’s how he plays.”
If nothing else, this might add some heat to what would be an otherwise dull game between a team (Calgary) that is rolling toward a division title and another team (Los Angeles) that is rolling toward the draft lottery.
It is also worth keeping in mind this fact about Tkachuk: For all of the talk about him as a pest and agitator, he is also one heck of a hockey player that has developed into a top-line player. His production has consistently improved across the board every year he has been in the league and he enters Monday’s game with 76 points (34 goals, 42 assists) in 75 games and is one of the league’s leading scorers.
He is one of four Flames players in the top-25 in the points race, joining Johnny Gaudreau (7th), Elias Lindholm (21st), and Sean Monahan (25th). Together they are a big part of why the Flames have emerged as a surprising Stanley Cup contender in the Western Conference.
Doughty, meanwhile, is having what might one of his worst seasons in the NHL and enters Monday’s game with five goals, 36 assists, and a minus-30 rating that is among the league’s worst.