BITTER BIRDS
Flyers’ Radko Gudas Suspended Six Games by NHL
By Brian Wright Flyers’ defenseman Radko Gudas was suspended six games by the NHL on Monday for a hit on Boston Bruins’ forward Austin Czarnik during Saturday’s 1-0 overtime loss in the club’s final preseason tune-up. The hit occurred in the third period as Gudas whistled for a two-minute interference penalty after sending his elbow into the head of Czarnik. Gudas, who is considered a repeat-offender by the league, avoided an earlier suspension for a questionable hit on Rangers prospect Jimmy Vesey after it was deemed that Gudas did not have time to stop his momentum after Vesey turned into the boards. The Flyers signed the defenseman to a four-year, $13.4 million contract in the offseason, and he is expected to provide leadership and a physical edge while on the ice. He’ll also need to be an example on and off the ice for blue-chip prospect Ivan Provorov, who, along with forward Travis Konecny, officially made the club earlier this afternoon. Gudas was suspended once last season, but was able to effectively toe the line last season, doing enough to provide solid physical play without going “Zac Rinaldo” on his opponent. However, this is now two questionable hits just in the past week-plus, so it must be asked, is Gudas turning into a bigger version of Rinaldo? I think that may be a bit of a stretch as Gudas is clearly more skilled than Rinaldo ever was. Gudas is an excellent defenseman when he can keep his emotions in check. He skates well, moves the puck well and isn’t afraid to get into the dirty areas and stick up for his teammates. General manager Ron Hextall and the rest of the Flyers brass realized this or they wouldn’t have shelled out the money. However, Gudas must learn from these offenses as he’s no good to his team if he’s in the press box and not on the ice. With Brandon Manning out with a shoulder injury and Michael Del Zotto set to miss 4-5 weeks with a knee problem, plus forward Brayden Schenn set to miss the club’s first three games due to a late hit against Washington in the playoffs last season, the roster will be a bit thin heading into Friday’s opener against Los Angeles. Suspended players count towards the standard 23 roster spots, which means the Flyers would only be able to fill 21 spots, while 20 dress for games, leaving little wiggle room if there is an in-game injury. Should an injury occur during the club’s season-opening three-game road trip to LA, Phoenix and Chicago, it possible you could see rising-star defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere get ice time on the wings. The likeliest candidate to take Gudas’ spot is rookie defenseman Samuel Morin. Morin had an excellent preseason and made it to the final week of camp before being sent to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. At 6'7, 224 pounds, Morin is an imposing figure on the blue line, which possesses a wicked shot from the point and is smooth on his skates. He may not be quite ready for the NHL, but similar to how Ghost broke into the league, trial by fire is sometimes the best option. Gudas will be missed during his absence, but it could be a chance for the fans to see more of the future, which is always a good thing. Other NHL Headlines Everyone’s favorite Penguin, Sidney Crosby, is set to miss the start of the season after being diagnosed with a concussion on Monday. There is no timetable for his return. Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau signed a six-year, $40.5 million deal to stay with the Alberta club. Gaudreau scored 30 goals and added 48 assists last season for 78 points.