Matthew Tkachuk hasn’t been making many friends around the league, especially on the Kings.
What one feud would you like to see bubble over this season?
Emily Kaplan: I’ll take Drew Doughty vs. Matthew Tkachuk. Let’s go over the cast: Tkachuk is the Calgary Flames‘ 19-year-old hot-shot winger (and, duh, son of Keith) who is getting a reputation as a guy who can score goals but also likes to stir things up. Doughty is the veteran Los Angeles Kings defenseman who has won two Stanley Cups and anchors a team that’s trying to squeeze one last run out of big contracts. They’re in the same division. And they don’t like each other.
This budding saga began last season, when Tkachuk elbowed Doughty, then was slapped with a two-game suspension. The duo rekindled it earlier this month, when both players served penalties around the same time and began chirping at each other through the glass. Actually, they were standing up and screaming — the type of shouting that the TV broadcast hones in on, then everyone on Twitter giggles with funny euphemisms for what is actually being said. (The Kings’ official Twitter account posted the video with this caption: “Drew Doughty making postgame dinner plans with Matthew Tkachuk.”)
This one has potential.
Greg Wyshynski: As someone incapable of appreciating pure wonderfulness in hockey, I want to see an internal war between Vegas owner Bill Foley and GM George McPhee over the season’s most unlikely potential debate: whether a playoff-bubble Vegas Golden Knights team is a seller at the trade deadline, like we all assumed they would be, or if they actually push for a postseason berth as an expansion team.
In my mind, you’d have Foley pushing for the playoffs, unable to ignore the lure of this sensational story and the absolute euphoria of the Vegas fans. And you’d have McPhee as the killjoy reminding his boss about their three-year plan for a playoff berth and that James Neal‘s 30 goals could be turned into a first-round pick. I want Foley holding playoff-race rallies in front of the Monte Carlo and McPhee shrugging his shoulders and muttering, “Well, it’s his team” when asked yet again why the Knights are still carrying 12 defensemen in March.
Granted, this isn’t going to be a prolonged “feud,” because the guy signing the weekly paychecks also signed a $500 million check to the NHL for the franchise, and he’s obviously going to win out in the end. But what’s the sense of having a team in Vegas if you don’t have one guy flailing his arms screaming “ALLLLL IN!” and another guy trying to quietly drag him out of the casino while he’s still up?
Chris Peters: That’s a pretty darn good one, Emily. Matthew Tkachuk has quickly become one of the league’s most effective pests, while also remaining a productive player. He keeps drawing more penalties than he’s taking, too, so it seems like Tkachuk is going to have a lot of feuds over the course of his career.
Although watching Tkachuk intrigues me, I’m going to take things in a totally different direction. Now, I’m not “hoping” for this to boil over per se, but I’m eagerly waiting to see what happens. That would be the ongoing situation with Matt Duchene and the Colorado Avalanche. If it’s not a feud, it at least sounds unpleasant.
To Duchene’s credit, he’s played through the frustration, posting eight points through the Avs’ first nine games. That said, we all saw the photo that launched the Sad Duchene memes in the preseason. He’s doing way better than simply going through the motions since then, but it’s hard to see this situation ending any other way than with a trade and a fresh start for the player.
This is also a massive test for Joe Sakic as a general manager, probably his biggest yet. He has not only the current team to worry about, in terms of how much of a distraction this can become; he also has to worry about the future of the franchise, which is what hangs in the balance with any potential Duchene deal. However, the longer this takes, the more this situation threatens to boil over.