Charles Barkley is an NBA legend well-known for his love of hockey, but that apparently doesn't mean much to Vegas Golden Knights star Jack Eichel.
At least, that’s how Barkley felt about an exchange the two had at a Florida hotel before Game 4 of the 2023 Stanley Cup Final.
"He looked at me like, who the hell are you?" Barkley said of his experience after introducing himself to Eichel during an interview with Sportsnet’s Kyle Bukauskas. "It was funny."
Charles Barkley got humbled by... Jack Eichel? 😂 pic.twitter.com/PuMdISlS84
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) June 11, 2023
Did Eichel not recognize Barkley, or was it a Tkachuk thing?
Naturally, it’s possible that Eichel recognized Barkley, and “Sir Charles” merely got the wrong idea.
Here’s another theory: Eichel views Chuck as a Matthew Tkachuk guy, and thus decided to cold-shoulder the former NBA star after all. Remember, Barkley raved about Tkachuk, saying he's even better than his father Keith was, and the NBA on TNT broadcast featured Tkachuk hamming it up with Barkley, Shaq & Co. while the Florida Panthers were awaiting the winner of the series between the Golden Knights and Dallas Stars.
One theory that’s less fun: maybe Eichel is banged up? Earlier in the Stanley Cup Final, Tkachuk landed a thunderous hit on Eichel, one that had people worried about serious injury ramifications for Eichel. Impressively, Eichel avoided missing much time, but that doesn’t mean he’s at full-strength. Perhaps Eichel would’ve been like a kid at a candy store meeting Barkley under different circumstances?
(The Tkachuk beef idea is more fun.)
Game 4 presented another Eichel injury watch, as he left for the locker room during the second period after being struck by an errant Jonathan Marchessault shot.
— Hockey Daily 365 l NHL Highlights (@HockeyDaily365) June 11, 2023
Eichel came into Game 4 with 23 points through his first 20 playoff games, including five points through the first three contests of the 2023 Stanley Cup Final. Fortunately for Vegas, less than two minutes into the third period, Eichel was back on the Golden Knights’ bench.
Either way, Barkley’s love of the NHL is much like his analysis of the NBA: refreshingly genuine. Sometimes that means he’ll even churn out controversial takes such as Tom Brady being (gasp) more handsome than Henrik Lundqvist.