Matthew Tkachuk is following dad Keith's advice, but forging his own path with the Calgary Flames

Matthew Tkachuk has emulated his father's offensive talents -- the younger Tkachuk is fourth in the league in rookie scoring -- as well as that trademark family snarl too, as underlined by his 92 penalty minutes. Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images

Dennis Wideman broke into the NHL in 2005 with the St. Louis Blues. During his rookie season, he remembers, an 8-year-old boy would often run around the team's dressing room.

When his current team, the Calgary Flames, made that boy the No. 6 pick in the draft last June, the now-33-year-old Wideman immediately texted the kid's father -- and Wideman's former teammate -- Keith Tkachuk.

Oh, how the hockey world goes 'round and 'round.

The question was, would the Flames' veteran defenseman playfully torment Matthew Tkachuk like his old man did to a then-22-year-old Wideman?

"Keith Tkachuk was a pretty vocal guy, and he would definitely let you know if he didn't like something you were doing, that's for sure," Wideman said with a smile.

So is Wideman now repaying the favor to the next-generation Tkachuk?

"A little bit,'' said Wideman, grinning again. "But he's playing well for us. We ride him a little bit just to keep him low. But he's a real good kid. There's not much you have to say to him.''

Matthew Tkachuk smiles at the thought that Wideman has been a teammate to both his dad and now him. What are the odds?

"It's crazy when you think about it like that," said Tkachuk, 19. "He's got some good stories about my dad. And I've got some good stories about Dennis, so maybe Wides will have a kid and I'll play with him.''

That sense of humor is one of many traits Matthew's old man passed down.

"There are similarities, yeah,'' Wideman said when asked about how father and son compare. "His dad trained him well. He's a good young kid who understands the game and how you're supposed to act when you first come into the league, that's for sure."

And that's first and foremost for Keith Tkachuk, how his son handles himself within that dressing room as a pro.

"That's one of the things I told him: You have to be able to get accepted in the locker room before you get on the ice and show your talents," Keith Tkachuk said during a phone call this week. "That was my No. 1 thing for him. 'You know the way I treated the trainers or the locker-room attendants on the road. Always do the right things. You want to get the respect of your veteran guys or else it's not going to work out no matter how good you are.'

"And I think he's blended in nicely, [knowing] when to talk and when not to talk, and the way he treats people. We're very, very happy he's done that. That's half the battle right there.''

On the ice, the younger Tkachuk has showed his offensive talents -- he's fourth in the league in rookie scoring -- as well as that trademark family snarl too, as underlined by his 92 penalty minutes. Fourteen of them came during a rout last Saturday night at the hands of the rival Edmonton Oilers.

Again, the apple doesn't fall far.

"So many comparisons," said former NHL star goalie Kelly Hrudey, a longtime Hockey Night In Canada commentator who also is part of the Flames' broadcasts. "Matthew is fully engaged every game. He clearly hates to lose. He's rambunctious. He goes after every top guy on the other team. He's got so many qualities that most kids that age don't possess.''

His trip (slew foot?) of Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Martin Marincin on Monday night in Toronto got a look-see from the NHL's player safety folks, but nothing further came of it.

Certainly the kid understands he has to be aware of that fine line between having an edge and not taking unnecessary penalties. The Flames' coaching staff has talked to him about it. His dad, too, knows his son has to be careful with penalties, but ...

"Then again, I'd rather have him being aggressive than being soft,'' said Keith Tkachuk before that Flames-Leafs matchup. Mind you, the old man was still a bit nervous watching that game unfold.

"I'm not going to lie to you, the other night I was hoping he wasn't out there against Milan Lucic,'' Keith Tkachuk said and then chuckled. "So you worry about it, but he just doesn't let things bother him.''

In the meantime, Keith and Matthew have a constant dialogue. Both of them cherish it.

"I talk to him almost after every game,'' said Matthew. "He knows he's not my coach anymore but he's just saying it as a guy who has been through it. And yeah, he gives me good advice.''

"It's hard for me," said Keith, whose other son, Brady, 17, is playing for the U.S. under-18 national development team and is viewed as a top prospect for the 2018 NHL draft. "We've only ever known one thing, we've always been together, our family. Now Matthew is gone playing in the NHL. So our form of communication is by the phone. But it's just general stuff. He'll ask me what I think and I'll tell him.''

He's wary of saying too much. His son will figure out his own NHL path. That much is already clear.