Former NHL forward Keith Tkachuk believes the lack of respect among players is one of the main reasons for the high number of violent hits in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Tkachuk said the issue of respect is a new and troubling trend in hockey, something that wasn’t a problem during the early part of his NHL career.
“I just think it’s a bit of a lack of respect,” Tkachuk told Brady & Lang on Sportsnet 590 The Fan Wednesday morning. “You know, there are no consequences for the guys on the ice, so you’re getting players out of their element going after people.
“I remember the old days when you’d go into a corner, the guy doesn’t see you, you might say, ‘Hey, heads up!’ you know, if it’s a guy you know and like.”
While Tkachuk feels tougher penalties could have helped curb some of the ugliness seen in Round 1 of the NHL Playoffs, the five-time all-star thinks the NHL will have to consider the size and strength of today’s players when looking for other solutions moving forward.
“Things got out of hand early and it probably could have been nipped earlier and then you might not have seen (those hits) but I think it’s a lack of respect. The guys are bigger, stronger. Now maybe (they should) make the rink bigger to try and prevent some of these things.”
The former St. Louis Blues winger also chimed in on the hit from Phoenix Coyotes forward Raffi Torres on Apr. 17 that resulted in Chicago Blackhawks’ Marian Hossa being taken off the ice on a stretcher.
“I would be interested to see, you know, if it was Alex Ovechkin who hit Hossa, what would be the number. I understand Torres is a repeat offender,” Tkachuk said.
Torres was not penalized on the play but was later suspended for 25 games. Hossa did not play the rest of the series and the Coyotes managed to win Game 6 and move on to the next round.
Tkachuk, who was drafted 19th overall by the Winnipeg Jets in 1990, finished his career with 538 goals in 1,201 games and played most of his career with the Blues but also spent time with the Jets, Coyotes and Atlanta Thrashers.