Following the LA Kings’ victory on Saturday, Todd McLellan addresses the controversy between Brendan Lemieux and Brady Tkachuk.
On Saturday, the LA Kings got exactly what they needed: a victory to end their five-game losing streak. Yet, while the win — a 4-2 end result versus the Senators — did wonders for the Kings’ confidence, the bigger news of the night came from a late-game incident between Brendan Lemieux and Ottawa captain Brady Tkachuk.
With just over six minutes to play in regulation, the Kings and Senators had a kerfuffle of sorts, which led to Lemieux and Tkachuk renewing hostilities. The incident saw the two wrestle to the ice while being restrained by two officials. When all was said and done, though, Tkachuk was showing blood on the side of his hand, pleading his case to the officials that Lemieux had bitten him.
While there was no substantial proof from the video shown on the telecast, that isn’t to suggest that it didn’t happen. Nevertheless, the officials agreed that Tkachuk had been bitten and, in addition to both players receiving double-minors for roughing, handed Lemieux a five-minute major for the incident and a game misconduct.
After the game, Kings head coach Todd McLellan spoke about the incident between Lemieux and Tkachuk.
“You know, when the referee explained to me, it makes sense,” McLellan admitted. “I didn’t see it, at least the video that we had on the bench, and [there are] many different angles. But, the way the referee explained it, it adds up. So, it’s not a situation– first of all, it’s wrong, if it did happen [and] we don’t want it to happen; and two, it’s not a good situation to put the team in not only for tonight, but moving forward.”
After all, while he may have a history of dropping the gloves and being a pest, for lack of a better term, Lemieux has nonetheless been a ray of light for the Kings thus far.
In 14 games this season, the Denver native has four goals and an assist, been has really stepped up his game since Drew Doughty and Sean Walker were sidelined due to their respective injuries. Of course, while he has been a factor on the scoresheet, Lemieux also displayed a consistent, and unmatched, level of work ethic to go in hand with his already prevalent sense of passion. But that’s not all. Lemieux has also anchored his club’s fourth line, complemented linemates Blake Lizotte and Arthur Kaliyev, in the process.
These are just a few of the reasons why the Kings can ill afford to be without the 25-year-old’s services should he be disciplined by the league for his actions.
“Brendan Lemieux has become a really valuable player to our team,” McLellan stressed. “I think he knows that. We all believe it. And we need him in the lineup. We need him playing every night, we need him playing every minute that he gets offensively, defensively, physically, emotionally, and if we happen to lose them for any period of time, we’ll miss him. And he has to understand how important he’s become.”
It may not take a genius to know that said controversy could have been avoided if Lemieux didn’t jump in to protect the aforementioned Lizotte. The Kings’ head coach was asked if he took exception with Lemieux getting involved in the scuffle with Tkachuk.
“I don’t have a problem with him jumping in. Not one bit,” a matter-of-fact McLellan responded. “At the end of the day, if it would have been double-miners to each of them, we’ll take that trade. We certainly will. It’s the extra [major], if it did occur, which obviously, the league or, pardon me, the officials on the ice believe it did, so we’re in that now.”
Regardless of how anyone feels about Lemieux’s major, the Kings killed it off successfully.
Up by just a single goal when the infraction was called, the silver-and-black and their fans had every reason to feel trepidatious. However, thanks to a collective heads-up effort by the penalty-killing unit, the Kings did not relinquish their lead. Instead, the aforementioned Carl Grundstrom potted the empty-netter for his second of the night, giving the home team a hard-fought 4-2 victory.
So, while the Lemieux-Tkachuk incident may have taken precedence following Saturday’s contest, McLellan did not leave without commending his penalty killers.
“We talked a lot on the bench about staying fresh and the way things worked out,” noted the Kings’ bench boss. “We could play almost two pairs, throw a third in there, have our best faceoff guys on the ice during those moments. A timeout helped us again — there [was] a few games ago where it allowed us to rest a little bit and get better penalty killers on the ice, or best penalty killer. So, this delay, the six minutes, we looked at it as a six-minute penalty kill, too, because they were going to pull their goalie in the last [minute] and we just didn’t have the icing ability. But, the way they managed the six minutes was well done.”
Brendan Lemieux has since been offered an in-person hearing by the NHL. This may elicit some concern for the Kings but for now, it is beyond their control. What is within their control, however, is focusing on creating a new winning streak, which they will hope will occur on Tuesday when the Kings play host to the Anaheim Ducks in this season’s first installment of the Freeway Faceoff.