Flyers' Radko Gudas suspended six games for late hit on Bruins prospect
After a number of questionable hits, Gudas finally crossed the line
After plenty of near misses over the last season-plus, Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas has crossed the line in the eyes of the NHL's Department of Player Safety. The veteran blueliner has been suspended for the first six games of the NHL regular season for his late, high hit on Boston Bruins forward prospect Austin Czarnik during Saturday's preseason game.
Gudas had avoided a suspension for another questionable hit that saw him ejected from a previous preseason game. On top of that, Gudas had multiple hits last season that either ended with him being ejected or his opponent getting injured. This time, it was a no-doubter, though, and his history, which included one suspension last season, contributed to the length of this suspension.
Gudas was offered an in-person hearing by the Department of Player Safety, which is necessary for incidents the department feels may lead to a suspension of more than five games. The Flyers blueliner declined the in-person and had his hearing over the phone Monday. The decision was announced that same day.
The hit Gudas delivered on Czarnik, who looked like he might have a shot at making Boston's NHL roster before being injured by this hit, was considered interference by the department. Czarnik was hit after he had passed the puck to a teammate. According to the department, the hit was delivered outside of the allowable time after a player has released a pass. Additionally, Gudas made significant contact with Czarnik's head.
Here is the full explanation:
Gudas was suspended three games last December for an illegal check to the head on then-Ottawa Senators forward Mika Zibanejad, therefore he is considered a repeat offender under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement. That means Player Safety is well within its rights to drop a lengthier ban on Gudas for his second offense.
Additionally, Czarnik reportedly sustained a concussion on the play. Injuries are always taken into consideration when deciding suspension length.
As we noted recently, Gudas has continually flirted with suspensions on many other occasions, only to get off because it stayed just barely on the side of a non-suspendable play. However, players that stay so close to the borderline are becoming more and more dangerous.
It got so bad at one point last season that Gudas reportedly had a meeting with GM Ron Hextall and coach Dave Hakstol during which he was told to be smarter about the hits he was delivering. Multiple ejections and major penalties cost his team last season.
As concerned as the Flyers may be with those hits, they still extended the 26-year-old defenseman a four-year contract extension worth an average of $3.35 million per season. That's a pretty big and expensive mixed message, because it is clear that he has not come close to changing his approach.
There's no doubt that the team likes his edge, but he continually puts them at risk of having to kill off big penalties and being short a defenseman. Worse yet, he continually puts his opponents at risk for severe injury.
The league is sending a good message with a lengthier-than-normal suspension, but will it do anything? For some players supplemental discipline absolutely works. Radko Gudas has a long way to go to prove it works for him.
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