The Philadelphia Flyers are already dealing with the loss of defenseman Michael Del Zotto after he suffered an injury in preseason, but now they will also be without the services of defenseman Radko Gudas for the first six game of the season.
Czarnik was going for the puck along the boards and he turned to make a play, but Gudas came from the side and hit him up high as he was turning away from the boards. The puck was long gone before Gudas made the hit so he was given a two minute minor for interference on the play. Czarnik was injured on the hit and didn’t return for the rest of the game. Gudas is considered a repeat offender and will forfeit $245,121.96 of his salary to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
The length of the suspension shouldn’t have been a surprise to the Flyers or Gudas, since he had waived his right to an in-person hearing, which generally means the suspension will be five games or more. The Flyers will already be without top line winger, Brayden Schenn, due to a three game suspension for an illegal hit in a game during last year’s playoff series against the Washington Capitals.
Gudas was suspended last season for three games after an illegal check to the head of Mika Zibanejad, who was playing for the Ottawa Senators, but has since been traded to the New York Rangers. The Flyers’ Head Coach Dave Hakstol and General Manager Ron Hextall each had something to say to the defenseman about his high, late hits. The talks seemed to work because Gudas was a different defenseman in the second half of last year and even contributed some on the offensive side of the puck. He was still playing hard and hitting, but he made sure his hits were legal and not up high. He earned himself a new four-year deal worth $3.85 million per season with his decent second half.
Then came the preseason and he seemed to have regressed back to his old ways. This wasn’t the first questionable hit of the preseason for Gudas. The other hit came against Rangers forward Jimmy Vesey. Vesey was skating to the puck in the corner and was away from the boards when Gudas caught him from behind and sent him into the boards. Gudas was assessed a five minute major for boarding, a five minute major for fighting and a game misconduct. The only reason he wasn’t suspended for that hit was because Vesey returned to the game, and the NHL Department of Player Safety deemed that Vesey put himself in a vulnerable position by turning into the hit.
It seems as though Brandon Manning will be filling in for Gudas during his suspension. Hopefully, Manning has a good showing during those six games and forces the Flyers to keep him in the lineup. If Gudas doesn’t want to listen to his coach or general manager, and keeps putting his team in a bad spot then he deserves to be the healthy scratch.
The full NHL Department of Player Safety analysis and decision can be see here: