Radko Gudas facing suspension, waives right to in-person hearing

Radko Gudas facing suspension, waives right to in-person hearing

Updated: 10:32 p.m.

Here we go again.

Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas was offered an in-person hearing by the NHL for his dangerous slash to the back of the head of Winnipeg's Mathieu Perreault in Thursday's loss. Late Friday night, Gudas waived his right to the in-person hearing and will now have it via phone on Sunday, meaning he can't play Saturday afternoon when the Calgary Flames visit the Wells Fargo Center.

Gudas was handed a game misconduct — the sixth of his career — and was tossed for his unnecessary slash. Was it dirty? Judge for yourself in the video above.

The NHL certainly seems to think it was intentional, however. The offering of an in-person hearing means Gudas is staring down a suspension — and a lengthy one, too — should the NHL discipline him. In-person hearings warrant a suspension of at least six games, as opposed to a suspension of five games or fewer that would be discussed in a phone call.

While the slash was certainly grounds for a suspension, Gudas' reputation is also working against him. The D-man is a repeat offender and was last suspended for six games in Oct. 2016 for a late hit. 

In his absence (Gudas can't play until the hearing is held), the Flyers figure to get Andrew MacDonald back from a lower-body injury within the next week or so. MacDonald injured his leg while blocking a shot Oct. 21 vs. Edmonton. The Flyers are 3-5-3 in his absence. Mark Alt, who is currently serving as the team's seventh defenseman, also figures to step in should MacDonald not be ready for Saturday's game.

Flyers notes, quotes and tidbits: Nolan Patrick to return next week?

_zack-hill-flyers-ian-laperriere-nolan-patrick.jpg
Zack Hill/Flyers

Flyers notes, quotes and tidbits: Nolan Patrick to return next week?

VOORHEES, N.J. — At this point, Nolan Patrick is pushing the extremes of what qualifies as a day-to-day injury.

Patrick, who suffered an upper-body injury on Oct. 24, has made progress — doing individual drills before practice in his yellow “injured” jersey this week. 

Both general manager Ron Hextall and head coach Dave Hakstol acknowledged the injury, a suspected concussion, has taken longer than originally anticipated to heal. But the Flyers’ rookie isn’t far off from a return.

“It’s taken longer than we thought, certainly hoped,” Hextall said. “But he skated today and everything went good and worked out. Things are good and now it’s a matter of starting to ramp him up. You just can’t go from zero to 60, it’s gotta be zero to 20 and then up. So he’ll go a little harder tomorrow and then hopefully, continues to progress.

“He skated this morning, he’s making progress and it’s a matter of kind of ramping him up a bit every day and hopefully, things continue on the path they’re going right now.”

Since being hit awkwardly into the boards in a home loss to the Ducks, Patrick has missed each of the Flyers’ last six games and will very likely miss the next two, including tonight vs. the Blackhawks. 

“It’s always a concern when a player’s out of the lineup but at the same time, there’s people that are here to work with him and we have full confidence that all the right things get done and players work hard to get back in the lineup when they’re able,” Hakstol said.

The Flyers have managed to stay afloat without Patrick, going 2-2-2, but it’s clear the team is lacking the punch and depth Patrick provided. In nine games with Patrick this season, the team has averaged 3.3 goals per game, compared to 2.8 in the six games without Patrick. 

Veteran center Jori Lehtera has stepped in for Patrick on the third line, but with a large contract and his best days behind him, it’s easy to see why he was expendable in St. Louis and a healthy scratch to start the year.

“I think Jori’s done a good job for us,” Hakstol said. … “He came in on the left side and did a good job for us and when we needed him up the middle here over the past few games, I think he’s done a very good job in a two-way sense as a centerman for us. And obviously, he’s very comfortable. He’s a veteran player and a veteran centerman in this league."

Lehtera is a fine fill-in, adding one assist in nine games this season, but lacks the playmaking ability that allowed the Flyers to roll four productive lines to begin the season.

“Jori does a very good job down low defensively as well as down low offensively. If you watch carefully, closely, he creates a lot of good puck possession and makes plays in tight spaces so he provides a real strong middle-ice presence.”

So when can we expect to see Patrick back in orange and black? Dealing with concussions is a tricky business, but with two promising skates in the last three days, Patrick seems to be improving. 

Improving enough that Hextall wouldn’t rule out a possible return on the Flyers’ upcoming road trip to Minnesota and Winnipeg next week. 

Help is on the way
More good news on the injury front for the Flyers as it looks as though Radko Gudas (upper-body injury) has been cleared by the team to return tonight vs. the Blackhawks.

Fellow D-man Andrew MacDonald isn’t far behind, as Hextall anticipates the veteran to begin skating next week. MacDonald suffered a lower-body injury while blocking a shot on Oct. 21. 

“Mac sees a doc tomorrow,” Hextall said. “He’s right on schedule. Again, I’m not exactly sure what day we’re at now but he’s at the front end of the 4-6 (weeks) is what we expect. We hope he’s skating next week.”

Projected lines
Brian Elliott will make his first start in eight days. Winger Matt Read and defenseman Mark Alt are healthy scratches.

Forwards: Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Travis Konecny-Valtteri Filppula-Wayne Simmonds
Jordan Weal-Jori Lehtera-Dale Weise
Taylor Leier-Scott Laughton-Michael Raffl

Defense: Ivan Provorov-Robert Hagg
Brandon Manning-Shayne Gostisbehere 
Travis Sanheim-Radko Gudas

Goalies: Brian Elliott
Michal Neuvirth

Brett Brown: Jahlil Okafor 'not in the rotation'

Brett Brown: Jahlil Okafor 'not in the rotation'

CAMDEN, N.J. — It’s almost Halloween, and like a ghost, Jahlil Okafor has been invisible through the Sixers' first five games.

And don’t expect that to change anytime soon.

After practice Friday, head coach Brett Brown admitted that the former No. 3 pick is “not in the rotation.”

“I’m playing Amir (Johnson) ahead of him and that’s just the situation,” Brown said. “[Okafor] doesn’t let people know. He comes in and his head’s good and his spirit’s good. And he and I talk all the time, but that is the bottom line. He is not in the rotation.”

Okafor — who was not made available to the media Friday — has appeared in just one game this season, the second game of a back-to-back when Joel Embiid was unavailable. Okafor played 22 minutes, contributing 10 points on 4 for 7 shooting, nine rebounds and two blocks — an encouraging sign — in the Sixers’ lopsided loss to the Raptors. 

Not bad. So what’s the deal?

Right now — and for well into the foreseeable future — Johnson is the go-to guy when Embiid is on the bench. 

“I think it’s going to be Amir’s spot to lose,” Brown said. “If I see that there’s a decline in performance, then it’s going to be his spot right now to lose. It’s always competitive, but the competitive nature has shifted toward Amir’s performance." 

The Sixers have to make a decision by Oct. 31 whether or not to pick up Okafor's fourth-year option of $6.3 million for next season. According to ESPN's Chris Haynes, the Sixers are still trying to trade Okafor and their decision with his option is based on how those talks develop. 

Johnson hasn’t exactly been lights-out when filling in for Embiid. Johnson, who signed a one-year, $11 million deal with the Sixers in July, has appeared in all five games but is averaging just 3.6 points and 5.0 rebounds per game on 30 percent from the field. 

With Johnson struggling and trade-bait Okafor toiling away on the bench, why not give the newly slimmed down Okafor a look? He can’t be much worse than Johnson, and if the Sixers are willing to trade Okafor — as they have made very apparent in the past — they’ll need to showcase him to garner any interest in the third-year pro. 

But that doesn’t seem to be in the cards for Brown and Co. In fact, Dario Saric seems to even be ahead of Okafor right now (see mailbag). The Sixers have used Saric sparingly at times this season in the five-spot when Embiid or Johnson get into foul trouble. With Ben Simmons a giant at point guard, it’s like a twisted version of small ball. 

Saric has struggled with the adjustment, and he failed to score for the first time in his career in Wednesday’s loss to the Rockets. Saric seemed outmatched physically and was a liability on defense, as James Harden drove to the basket with ease. Brown took the blame for that one but seems committed to giving Saric a try down low. 

“Like the other night (vs. Houston) was such an outlier, where there was so much switching,” Brown said. ... “At times that doesn’t favor him with some of those guys, (Eric) Gordon and Harden, driving Dario Saric is not, really at times, wise for me to put him in that position.

“I think at times (Dario)’s also trying to juggle the four-spot and the intellect now of the five, when we get in foul trouble and other circumstances. I like playing him at some five because he can pull people out. The knowledge base of what that means from a structural standpoint and a play-call standpoint, it’s a different position and sometimes I think that that weighs on his mind too much, where he’s not playing as free.”

Johnson and Saric don't seem like a reliable duo to back up Embiid — especially with the limited minutes and games Embiid typically plays. But help is on the way.

Richuan Holmes, dealing with a fractured wrist, is inching back and has been cleared to practice on a limited basis. He will be reevaluated next Thursday.

“I think we’re gonna have another conversation soon, here comes Richaun — and here we go again," Brown said. "And that’s a good thing. It’s pro sports and it’s my job to figure it out.”

With all of the uncertainty surrounding the Sixers’ big men, one thing is clear: So long as Embiid is playing (fingers crossed), we won’t be seeing Okafor anytime soon as Brown looks to solidify his rotation as the season gets underway.

“But all coaches seek a level of consistency with rotation, you don’t want to get into a juggling act,” Brown said. “You want to get into some type of symmetry with who you’re playing and how you’re playing them, and have some type of semblance of order in what they can expect from a rotation standpoint."