Matthew Tkachuk joins Marchand, Crosby among NHL’s biggest villains

Tim and Sid discuss the way Calgary Flames rookie Matthew Tkachuk and the Los Angeles Kings handled their game last night and if superstars should be fighting their own battles or not.

Matthew Tkachuk was already in the midst of an impressive rookie campaign but the Calgary Flames forward had a coming out party in March stemming from a pair of games against the Los Angeles Kings.

Tkachuk earned a two-game suspension for this elbow on Drew Doughty.

The 19-year-old was chirped by Doughty but played it off like it was nothing. Tkachuk didn’t shy away from being verbally combative and in the grudge match on Wednesday he looked comfortable in the spotlight during a heated contest. He didn’t shy away from the Kings’ challenges and continued to go right at Doughty again.

This has resulted in Tkachuk’s popularity skyrocketing among Flames fans while also becoming somewhat of a villain around the league.

With Tkachuk’s emergence as a nuisance in mind, here are his fellow polarizing peers.

Brad Marchand

The Bruins forward is going to finish as a top-10 goal scorer for a second consecutive season and has already set a new career high in points, outdoing his previous best by more than 20 points.

He has emerged as an elite forward while firmly remaining the king of the shift disturbers. Marchand has managed to avoid being suspended this season although he was fined $10,000 for taking out Niklas Kronwall in a game against the Red Wings.

“That’s a little bit of stupidity there. A little unnecessary,” Marchand said of his slew foot on Kronwall. “I can play the game without doing that stuff.”

Five days later he pulled a similar move on Lightning defenceman Anton Stralman but avoided supplemental discipline.

Sidney Crosby

No. 87 is still the best hockey player in the world. He’s the current NHL goals leaders, a frontrunner to win his third career Hart Trophy and even though he is putting up the lowest penalty-minutes-per-game total of his career, Crosby has been involved in several plays that drew the ire of his peers.

Most notably was his slash on Marc Methot. It was an innocent enough whack yet the result was Methot’s finger being mangled.

“I’m just trying to get his stick, and I think I caught his finger, judging by his reaction and their reaction,” Crosby said. “I’ve gotten those before, they don’t feel good.”

Earlier in the week he gave a little love tap to Ryan O’Reilly’s nether region. Now that’s no way to make friends.

Radko Gudas

Gudas serves as an alternate captain on the Brent Burns/Joe Thornton-led All-Beard Team and he’s absolutely a top-pair blueliner on the villain squad. Gudas can give you 20 minutes a night and some much-needed muscle on the back end. More importantly, he is no stranger to dolling out questionable hits. Like this one from October that cost him six games and nearly a quarter million dollars in salary.

Tom Wilson

You need to keep your head on a swivel when Wilson’s on the ice. No stranger to supplemental discipline and calls from the NHL’s Department of Player Safety, the Capitals grinder is always among the league’s leaders in PIMs.

Andrew Shaw

Shaw deserves a stick tap for his work to repair his off-ice image, but on the ice he’s still a menace. He was suspended in the pre-season for boarding but that hasn’t resulted in him playing with any less grit this season.

Micheal Haley

Haley had 809 penalty minutes in 316 career AHL games and that pugnacity has carried over into the NHL. The 31-year-old was suspended one game for cold-cocking Calle Jarnkrok. Once you sucker punch a player, you earn your villain badge.

Steve Ott

If there were a shrine honouring NHL villains, Ott would be a first ballot Hall of Famer. As his career winds down, he remains among the NHL’s most gifted agitators. By all accounts he’s a great teammate too, but when you learn how to swear in different languages specifically to get under your opponent’s skin? That’s next level hockey villainry.

Alexandre Burrows

In many ways Burrows has been a more pesky version of Ott over the years, fighting less frequently than Ott and being more dangerous offensively. That is a frustrating combination. He has even been accused of biting in the past.

Ryan Kesler

The one-time Selke winner has always had an ability to get under the skin of his peers and he’s often booed when he’s wearing his visitor uniform. Now, it’s never fun seeing a player get knocked out in a fight, but it does say something about his villain status that many hockey fans enjoyed watching Max Domi land an uppercut that sent Kesler to the ice earlier this season.

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Nazem Kadri

Kadri has completely changed his game under Mike Babcock yet that hasn’t changed the way players feel about him. When you say you can relate to Marchand, that sort of makes you a villain by default doesn’t it?

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