Claude Lemieux

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Tkachuk brothers keep proving they’re not just trolls

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There’s just something annoying, maybe enraging, about Brady Tkachuk and Matthew Tkachuk.

Keith’s progeny bring a lot to the table of obnoxiousness. Some of their facial expressions practically demand a mitt in the mush. That only intensifies when they stick their mouthpieces out like plastic tongues. One can only imagine how irritating their trash talk can be, considering that even Brady refers to Matthew as a “pest.”

For opponents, the worst part is that they aren’t just the worst, they’re also among the best players on their respective teams. And it sure seems like they keep getting better, which should only make them bigger headaches.

The Brad Marchand Club

While pure pests are becoming an endangered species in the NHL, there are still some who can eke out a living even if they do little beyond getting under your skin.

It’s early, even in Matthew’s career, but it sure feels like it’s going to be increasingly appropriate to compare the Tkachuk brothers to Brad Marchand, a hyper-talented hyper-pest.

Through 24 games, Matthew Tkachuk has generated an impressive 27 points for the Calgary Flames.

Remarkably, he continues to do a significant chunk of his damage at even-strength, as only nine of his 27 points have come on the power play. Brady Tkachuk is creating a similar impact so far, as he’s managed 16 points in his first 14 games with the Ottawa Senators, with a mere four being PPP.

Now, it’s important to note the Tkachuk puck luck at hand. Matthew’s 12 goals come on just 54 SOG (22.2 percent), while Brady’s nine goals happened on a mere 43 SOG (20.9 percent).

With such high percentages in mind, it’s probably dangerous to pencil them in as point-per-game players, at least not until they start generating a little more offense on special teams. Regardless, the overarching point remains sound: like Marchand, Claude Lemieux, and select few, the Tkachuk brothers can hurt your soul, harm your body, and embarrass you on the scoreboard.

Smart pests

It remains to be seen if either Tkachuk can truly join Marchand in the NHL’s upper crust, but it sure seems like both stand a chance of using their wits to make a difference. After all, Marchand is a testament to agitating players sometimes being their own worst enemies.

As Ryan Pike recently explained for Flames Nation, there was a time when Matthew Tkachuk made some dumb decisions that landed him on the Department of Player Safety’s rolodex,* yet there are signs that he’s learning how to pick his spots. Instead of engaging Zach Kassian in a fight during a rowdy Battle of Alberta, Matthew decided not to take the bait, ultimately putting the Oilers in the penalty box for three minors:

* – Come on, they probably still ride the train and use typewriters, right?

Even earlier in his career, Matthew Tkachuk was drawing far more penalties than he was taking, as you can see from Natural Stat Trick’s handy penalties drawn/taken numbers.

Brady hasn’t mastered that art yet, but there are already signs of an advanced hockey IQ. Like Matthew, he’s beginning his career with more defensive zone starts than shifts beginning in the attacking zone, a sign that he has two-way smarts and the trust of his coach. That trust has been justified in each case, as both Tkachuk brothers are puck possession monsters so far.

The younger Tkachuk brother also showed some great vision and awareness in identifying this loose puck before anyone else, starting a run of consecutive shifts with goals during Ottawa’s comeback win against the Flyers on Tuesday:

***

The Tkachuk brothers seem to have the requisite “nose for the net” to score ugly goals, but let’s hope that they keep their mouthpieces in at key times. They don’t want to be like their father Keith, who apparently needed to transplant part of his hip bone during especially ghastly dental surgery after taking a puck to the face. Even trolls (probably) deserve better than that.

/gags

Again, it’s remarkable – and for opponents, unnerving – to realize how young these two are. Matthew’s proven to be a fantastic top-six forward, and he’s in the final year of his rookie deal at 20, setting the stage for a big raise. Brady, meanwhile, looks very much like a 19-year-old rookie, except when it comes to producing on the ice. If healthy, it’s tough to imagine Brady not at least being an honorable mention for the Calder.

Their great play might slip under the radar just a touch considering their struggling teams (Senators owner Eugene Melnyk is being compared to Larry David, after all), but opponents and opposing fan bases will find them both very difficult to ignore.

And stop.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Claude Lemieux’s son interviewed with Detroit’s Draper at combine

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The 2014 NHL Draft could be filled with surprises and intrigue, but it could also be filled with coincidences that make history seem funny.

One such possibility could revolve around Barrie Colts forward Brendan Lemieux. Brendan is the son of former Colorado Avalanche forward Claude Lemieux. We’ve talked about him here before.

During the NHL Scouting Combine, Lemieux interviewed with 28 out of 30 NHL teams and one of those was the Detroit Red Wings. The guy doing the talking for Detroit was none other than Kris Draper, now a special assistant to GM Ken Holland. Draper and Claude Lemieux have a notorious history dating back to 1996.

As Mike Morreale of NHL.com shared, the interview went without any fireworks.

“We had a great conversation,” Brendan said. “He’s a really nice guy. I did not think I was going to get interviewed by them, let alone have it be serious. I thought they were going to walk in, make a few jokes and I was going to leave, but I have nothing but good things to say about their organization. They were extremely professional and they barely brought it up. I tried to joke about it and they weren’t even budging.

“I have no problem playing in Detroit after that interview, for sure.”

Imagine the reaction of Red Wings fans who still see red when they see video of Brendan’s father Claude hitting Draper from behind during the 1996 Western Conference Final.

Somewhere, Dino Ciccarelli is really getting fired up about the possibility of the Wings taking the son of a franchise villain.

Lemieux, part two: Avs ponder taking Claude’s son Brendan

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There are going to be a lot of familiar last names at the 2014 NHL Draft, but one of them might pop up for a familiar team.

Barrie Colts forward Brendan Lemieux is of interest to the Colorado Avalanche. Brendan’s father, Claude, has a bit of history with the franchise as he was part of the 1996 Stanley Cup-winning team.

As Mike Chambers of The Denver Post writes, Claude’s connections with former teammates Patrick Roy and Joe Sakic might help lead to Brendan putting on an Avalanche sweater in Philadelphia.

“Whether it’s my dad’s relationship with Patrick or my relationship with Patrick, they’re not going to base their decision around that,” Brendan Lemieux said Tuesday. “It’s bigger business nowadays, and I know they’ll draft the best player available and what they need. I’m looking forward to whichever team picks me, but if I go to Colorado at No. 23, I won’t be disappointed at all. It will be a dream.”

Brendan is the 28th-best North American skater according to NHL Central Scouting. He had 27 goals and 53 points in Barrie this season and was a teammate of potential top pick, defenseman Aaron Ekblad.

The possibilities of seeing Claude’s son land on a team he’s got history with are juicy. Obviously the Avalanche connections are there, but with New Jersey and Montreal picking late in Round 1, seeing him chosen by them makes for a great story as well.

You don’t suppose the Detroit Red Wings might be interested if he slips into the second-round, do you?

PHT Morning Skate: There’s panic in Winnipeg

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

See what happens when you lose three in a row? People start to get nervous. Fortunately for the Winnipeg Jets, the Hurricanes and Capitals aren’t doing much to catch them in the Southeast. (Winnipeg Free Press)

Welcome back, Bobby Ryan. He snapped a six-game goalless streak against the Stars last night. (Orange County Register)

Former Devils like Ken Daneyko, Stephane Richer, Claude Lemieux, Slava Fetisov, and Sergei Brylin will play an alumni game for Sandy relief. Pretty cool. (Fire & Ice)

Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff says they can be both buyers and sellers at the deadline. That’s not confusing at all. (Winnipeg Sun)

They’re ready for the rebuild in Buffalo after seeing Jordan Leopold and Robyn Regehr dealt the last two days. (Buffalo News)

Turns out Ryane Clowe’s impending trade wasn’t a distraction for the Sharks last night. Still, pretty crazy he’s getting the Jarome Iginla treatment. (CSNBayArea.com)

Big decisions await Dallas GM Joe Nieuwendyk at the trade deadline. (Dallas Morning News)

Speaking of Dallas, Brenden Morrow wanted to be a Star for life. D’oh… (DMN)

Finally, from the college ranks: The Denver Pioneers fired 19-year head coach George Gwozdecky. He’d only taken the team to 20 wins each of the last 12 years and has led them to two national championships. What a bum, right? Sheesh. (Denver Post)

Happy 47th birthday, Claude Lemieux

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Claude Lemieux — aka “Pepe”, aka “Claude the Fraud”, aka “Not on Kris Draper’s Christmas card list” — is 47 today.

To celebrate one of the greatest villains in NHL history, let’s go to the video!

First, here’s the defining moment of Lemieux’s career. Yes yes, I realize he won three four Stanley Cups and the Conn Smythe in 1995, but answer me this:

When you hear Claude Lemieux’s name, what’s the first thing you think of?

Here’s the postscript from that hit, courtesy the New York Times:

When Lemieux checked Draper, his face hit the top of the boards in front of the Detroit bench. He suffered a broken jaw, a concussion, damaged teeth, a possible fracture of the orbital bone and cuts that needed 30 stitches to close.

Afterward, Draper looked like the victim of a car accident. Two hours after the incident, blood still flowed from his mouth and nose and parts of his face were swollen. He will have his fractured jaw surgically repaired on Friday.

The following season, Detroit got its revenge on Lemieux.

(Note the cameo from Jim Van Horne’s sweet moustache):

Imagine being at the Joe for this one. A 6-5 game (decided in overtime, no less) with 18 fighting majors and 144 penalty minutes. The Red Wings fired 47 shots on goal — compared to just 19 from the Avalanche — and it’s not like either team dined out on the power play. The Avs went one-for-six, the Wings one-for-seven.

I could think of worse games to be in attendance for.

Finally, it has to be said — one of Lemieux’s most memorable moments wasn’t a hit that he threw, but rather one he received.

It was during Game 5 of the 1996 Western Conference finals — the game before the Draper incident — when Vladimir Konstantinov caught him with one of the nastiest hipchecks ever:

That hit gets lost in the shuffle sometimes, largely because Colorado went on to win the series. But I honestly think it might be the best hipcheck…ever. Seriously.

Considering the stakes, the player it was on, the impact it made on contact and the spectacular landing…if you’ve got another submission, feel free to post it in the comments section.