VOORHEES, N.J. — Flyers general manager Ron Hextall and coach Dave Hakstol talked individually with Radko Gudas on Friday about his unnecessary hit on Buffalo rookie Daniel Catenacci that earned Gudas a five-minute major for charging.
Even more, it earned yet another review by the NHL’s department of player safety — that’s four this year — and for the second time this month, Gudas did not receive a hearing, according to sources Friday (see story).
So the Flyers’ broad-shouldered defenseman dodged yet another suspension.
He didn’t dodge the wrath of his coach or GM. Their concern was whether Gudas understands time, place and whether the kind of borderline play he made was worth it with 3:33 left in a game the Flyers were winning, 5-1.
“There’s a big picture to all of it in terms of our main concern," Hakstol said. "Our main goal right now is to do all the little things necessary to win hockey games.
“In keeping with that, how individually does everybody do their part to help us win games. That’s the basis of my conversation with Radko.”
The Flyers don’t need the extra scrutiny that Gudas is bringing upon the team with more regularity these days. Gudas admitted he met with Hextall.
“We talked in the morning, briefly,” Gudas said. “He was making sure I am paying attention and doesn’t want me to get suspended again. Be a good hockey player and make a good hit.”
Even though Gudas' hit on Catenacci was considered “legal” by the NHL, it doesn’t necessarily mean it was a “good” hit nor even necessary in that situation when a vulnerable player with his head down was already engaged with another Flyer (Chris VandeVelde).
Catenacci will not play for the Sabres tonight because of a possible concussion.
“Nothing really I want to comment on,” Gudas said. “You guys all saw it. I really can’t comment. It’s a hockey play. Everything can be done differently. I don’t take a look at it and say, ‘I should have done this or that.' I did what I did. It happened.”
Big hits — and questionable hits — are in Gudas' nature, just as they were in Zac Rinaldo's when he played here.
Yet the larger issue is whether Gudas recognizes that he is bringing unwanted attention to the Flyers at a crucial time of the season when tight games can easily be won or lost on an unnecessary penalty.
Does Gudas get it?
“That is part of the conversation we had,” Hakstol replied. “What are we doing to help ourselves win hockey games?”
It remains to be seen whether Hakstol punishes Gudas with less ice time or even benches him on Saturday against New Jersey.
Hakstol said there might be lineup changes but wouldn’t say who would come out.
He did say, however, he was happy with the two forward changes he made against Buffalo — R.J. Umberger and Jordan Weal.
If Gudas sits, Evgeny Medvedev would re-enter the lineup.