Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas is no stranger to the NHL’s Department of Player Safety, but there’s some grey area that could result in him avoiding suspension for his hit on Rangers rookie Jimmy Vesey.
NCAA standout Jimmy Vesey hasn’t yet had his regular season “Welcome to the NHL” moment, but if it’s anything like his pre-season greeting from Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas, Vesey will be more than happy to go his entire career without being welcomed to the big league.
Late in the first period of Monday’s pre-season tilt between the Flyers and Rangers in Philadelphia, Vesey skated deep into the attacking zone chasing a puck that had been tipped into the Flyers’ zone. Gudas closed the gap between he and Vesey as the Rangers rookie headed back for the puck, and as soon as he picked up the puck, Vesey put on the brakes in an attempt to cut back.
At almost the exact moment Vesey cut back, though, Gudas came in and walloped Vesey from behind:
(Video via Sportsnet)
Gudas’ hit wound up being the end of his night, as the referees handed the Flyers rearguard a major penalty and game misconduct for boarding to go along with an additional five minutes for fighting. Astoundingly, Gudas was actually able to manage more penalty minutes in the first frame than actual game time had been played, as he had also received a holding penalty earlier in the frame to bring his total to 22 for the night.
There hasn’t yet been a hearing announced for Gudas, and, as hard as it may be to believe, there’s a chance he avoids a suspension for the hit. As Gudas starts his hitting motion, Vesey could potentially be eligible for a hit if he were to continue on his original path. It’s not until he turns that Gudas ends up running Vesey in from behind, and that could be what saves Gudas on this play.
However, one could argue Gudas still had enough time to slow up or hug Vesey into the boards without crashing into him with a shoulder to the head and numbers.
The NHL’s Department of Player Safety has already handed out two suspensions this pre-season — one to Montreal’s Andrew Shaw and the other to Chicago’s Niklas Hjalmarsson — and a third to Los Angeles’ Tanner Pearson could be coming. Gudas is no stranger to hearing from the Department of Player Safety, and he could be added to the list of suspended players.
Though it won’t have impact in the decision of the league whether or not to suspend Gudas, it’s worth noting that Vesey returned to action following the hit and he got somewhat even. Vesey scored his first pre-season goal when the Rangers were trailing by one midway through the third period. Vesey’s goal forced overtime, but Philadelphia scored in the extra frame to take the win.
UPDATE: According to TSN's Darren Dreger, Gudas will avoid supplemental discipline for the hit on Vesey.
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