History of Tkachuk-Lemieux Feud
By Joseph Agosti, Contributor
Tkachuk and Lemieux reignited a decades-old rivalry between two legendary hockey families; both with reputations of grit and toeing the line between clean and dirty.
On Saturday, November 27th Brendan Lemieux took at least one bite out of Brady Tkachuk’s hand, prompting a scrum, a suspension, and a war of words between Tkachuk and future Hall Of Famer Jonathan Quick. Tkachuk and Lemieux reignited a decades-old rivalry between two legendary hockey families; both with reputations of grit and toeing the line between clean and dirty. Sins of the father passed down to their sons, physical players with many enemies around the league just like their fathers before them. What is the context of the war between two prominent hockey families? Let’s take a deep dive into how the actions of Keith Tkachuk and Claude Lemieux led to the meeting of Brendan Lemieux’s teeth and Brady Takchuk’s hand.
Both Keith Tkachuk and Claude Lemieux were, to say the least, agitators in the 90’s NHL. Tkachuk’s gritty style of play earned him many enemies throughout his career, as well as many penalty minutes, 2,219 to be exact. Lemieux, on the other hand, was a well-known pest with a history of cheap shots. In the 1996 Western Conference Finals, Claude Lemieux hit Kris Draper into the boards severely injuring him. Draper broke his jaw and missed the rest of the playoffs. Lemieux, meanwhile, was only given a two-game suspension. Dino Ciccarelli, Draper’s teammate would later say that he couldn’t believe he shook Lemieux’s hand at the end of the series when Lemieux’s Colorado Avalanche beat Draper’s Detroit Red Wings.
Later in 1996, during the World Cup of Hockey, Keith Tkachuk and Claude Lemieux’s paths finally crossed. Lemieux’s Canada was taking on Tkachuk’s Team USA, and after a scrum along the boards, Tkachuk and Lemieux locked horns. After about 10 seconds of sizing each other up, they finally started swinging. Both men landed multiple right hooks with Lemieux eventually scoring the takedown over Tkachuk. Still jostling on the ground, referees had to intervene, breaking the men up and escorting them, still chirping at each other, off the ice.
Back to the present day, the progeny of the two 90’s agitators were facing off, Tkachuk’s Ottawa Senators vs Lemieux’s Los Angeles Kings. Late in the 3rd period, with the Kings leading 3-2, Tkachuk and Lemiuex got into a tussle in front of the net. This time, Tkachuk took Lemieux down, and they continued to wrestle along the ice. While they were fighting, Lemieux bit Tkachuk in the hand not once, but twice. Once refs separated them, Tkachuk got to his feet screaming at Lemieux, gesturing to his now bleeding hand. Noticing the blood, referees gave Brendan Lemieux a five-minute match penalty and kicked him out of the game.
The Kings would hold on to win the game 4-2, but Lemieux had a meeting with the NHL Department of Player Safety. Lemieux ended up being suspended for five games, the largest suspension for biting in NHL history. Tkachuk, for his part, went on a tirade after the game. ESPN reports Tkachuk calling Lemieux a “complete brick head.” This incited a swift denial by King’s goaltender Jonathan Quick, who was ready to rebut Tkachuk’s claims by calling Tkachuk’s comments “garbage”.
Ottawa and Los Angeles don’t play against each other for the rest of the season. But, the Kings do play Brady’s brother’s team the Calgary Flames three more times this season on December 2nd, March 31st, and April 4th. It will be interesting to see what’s in store for this storied rivalry.