What’s the lowest thing you can do on the ice? Or, to put it in more practical, less moralizing terms, what’s the thing you can do to get people maddest at you? Hit a guy from behind? Fight someone who doesn’t want to fight? Fine answers, both. But no, for my money, nothing quite pairs “petty” with “vicious” like taking a big ol’ munch on a dude’s hand. Ottawa’s Brady Tkachuk was steaming mad after the Kings’ Brendan Lemieux bit him—twice!—during their scrum on Saturday night, and frankly it’s hard to blame him.
L.A. was up a goal with 6:09 left in the third when a little pushing and shoving and exchanging of opinions on the Kings’ shiny helmets (probably) following a whistle devolved into Lemieux and Tkachuk trading blows against the glass and then down on the ice. It took two officials trying their damndest to separate the pair, and before they could, Tkachuk’s hands found themselves perilously close to Lemieux’s chompers. It’s hard to see in the video exactly when it happened, but Tkachuk came up incensed and with blood on his hands, telling the officials that he had been bitten.
After a lengthy video review and a ref coming over to check out the bite marks, Lemieux received a match penalty and was shown the gate. The Senators, being the Senators, couldn’t convert on the five-minute power play, and Carl Grundstrom, serving the penalty with Lemieux in the dressing room, scored an empty-netter soon after leaving the box to give the Kings the 4-2 win.
Tkachuk was still really freaking pissed when he spoke to the media after the game.
“This is the one time I’m going to answer this,” said Tkachuk. “It was the most gutless thing somebody could ever do. This guy, you can ask anyone of his teammates, nobody ever wants to play with him, this guy is a bad guy and a bad teammate, he focuses on himself all the time.
“The guy’s just a joke. He shouldn’t be in the league. This guy’s gutless. No other team wants him, he’s going to keep begging to be in the NHL but no other team is going to want him, he’s an absolute joke. I can’t even wrap my head around it. People don’t even do this. He’s just a bad guy.
“It’s outrageous. Kids don’t even do that anymore. Babies do that. I don’t even know what he was thinking, he’s just a complete brick head. He’s got nothing up there. Bad guy, bad player but what a joke he is,” said Tkachuk.
Spicy! Lemieux didn’t talk to reporters, and his coach Todd McLellan didn’t defend him, saying basically, Yeah, he needs to not do stuff that’s going to get him suspended. He’ll get a hearing with the Department of Player Safety, and maybe a game or two to chew over what he’s done.
This of course was more than just an isolated incident. The two have a history dating back to when Lemieux was with the Rangers, but it’s also a continuation of a literal blood feud: This was two second-generation NHL shit-stirrers, picking up where their dads left off. Brady is the son of Keith Tkachuk, no shrinking violet, while Brendan’s father is Claude Lemieux, quite possibly the dirtiest player of all time. (Credit to the Sportsnet crew for quickly finding footage of the dads going toe-to-toe [in a World Cup game!], at 1:20 of the above video.) And while Lemieux the Elder is best known for running Kris Draper and causing perhaps the most famous rivalry and brawl in modern league history, he was also, like his son, a biter.
In 1986, a rookie Claude Lemieux scored the only goal in a 1-0 Montreal win over Calgary in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final, but he wasn’t done there. In the waning seconds of the game the benches cleared for a brawl, and Lemieux ended up taking a bite of Jim Peplinski’s finger.
“I know I didn’t get a piece of it (Peplinski’s finger) in my mouth,” Lemieux said. “But I think I broke my tooth on it. I guess when you fight, you don’t know what you do.
“I didn’t want to fight, but they came after me. I think I did a pretty good job. I think he (Peplinski) will remember me.”
Said Peplinski of Lemieux: “He’s a good hockey player, I’ll give him that. But it’s a little frustrating when he tries to bite your finger off.”Los Angeles Times
I think it’s sort of nice when history doesn’t seem so long ago.