A LITTLE HISTORY
Once upon a time, in an era far, far away…
A team existed that was so fearsome, so ruthless, so down right terrifying they garnered one of the most recognizable nicknames in all of sports: The Broad Street Bullies. This team worked their way from a run-of-the-mill expansion franchise to a dynasty throughout the 70’s and they did it in a way the NHL had never seen, with their fists. Bobby Clarke, the youngest captain in league history at the time, led the Philadelphia Flyers to two Stanley Cup Championship victories during that fateful decade. They had a mix of skill and grit that was unprecedented in the league at the time and truly terrorized opposing players.
Fast forward 37 years or so…
And the Flyers have transformed into a young, fast team on the rise. Discipline is more important in today’s NHL than ever before as teams continue to pick apart opposing penalty killing units. One poor decision that leads to a powerplay for the other team, as the Flyers fans of 2017 know better than most, can be the difference between a win or a loss.
As a result, certain players have been ousted in an attempt to cut down on the team shooting itself in the foot by taking stupid penalties. Guys like Dan Carcillo, Zac Rinaldo, and Steve Downie have been left behind in favor of more speedy, skilled players. Most fans approve of a more high-flying approach to the game that focuses more on scoring goals than punching faces. Management has done a good job of recognizing this fact after years of trying to return to their bruising roots. They’ve made sure the roster contains virtually no “dirty” players. Well… almost.
BIG BAD RADKO
Radko Gudas joined the team on March 2, 2015 as a part of a trade that sent Braydon Coburn to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Coburn was a much-maligned player in his final years with the Flyers and a lot of fans were just happy to see him go let alone get a couple decent draft picks in the process. Gudas was essentially a throw in at the time of the trade and not many people expected him to become a valuable part of the team.
Gudas didn’t join the team until the start of the 2015-16 season due to a knee surgery he had two months prior to his being traded. He showed promise early on but found himself in the league’s crosshairs just 3 months into the season. Gudas was suspended for three games for an illegal check to the head of Mika Zibanejad and the Flyers fanbase got their first look at the type of player Gudas was capable of being.
Gudas has avoided suspension numerous times since joining the Flyers. He repeatedly walks the line between questionable and downright malicious on a disturbingly frequent basis. He was suspended 6 games last season for a hit to the head of Austin Czarnik in the preseason. He’s been given game misconducts for his physical play on multiple occasions.
Throughout his tenure in Philadelphia, he’s also managed to show that he’s capable of being a productive member of this organization. He’s responsible in his own zone most of the time and, when held in check, his physical play can make a real difference in games. The end of last season, in particular, was a welcome site for fans as Gudas managed to avoid alerting league officials for an extended period of time.
Entering this season, most people involved with the Flyers considered Gudas a major part of the franchise’s immediate future. A talented crop of young defenseman have either been injected into the lineup or are on the verge of making the jump. Gudas, with his newfound self-control, seemed like a worthy mentor for the rookie blueliners. That is, until he managed to completely discredit anyone who portrayed faith in him in one swift swing of his stick.
Philadelphia’s Radko Gudas suspended ten games for slashing Winnipeg's Mathieu Perreault. https://t.co/evgkEFCNUf
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) November 20, 2017
Gudas was suspended 10 games for one of the most vicious and deliberate actions I’ve ever seen in a hockey game. After being pestered in the corner by Mathieu Perrault, Gudas retaliated by hooking Perrault’s skate out from under him. As Perrault was falling to the ice, Gudas brought his raised stick down with purposeful force onto Perrault’s neck. He was handed a game misconduct and suspended for 10 games, a graceful ruling in my opinion.
THE CURSE OF THE SUPERMAN PUNCH
Now, this next section is some semi-serious speculation formed by my own analysis of recent events and my pre-existing opinion of Radko Gudas. It’s also a result of my own insane belief that there are larger forces at work behind our great sport: the Hockey Gods. That being said… I’m totally right and it’s the only explanation for the Flyers’ recent misfortunes. The only explanation. Bear with me.
Last night, the Flyers ended their ten game losing streak. They played poorly for a large portion of those games, but in the times that they haven’t, the team has been plagued by misfortune. From missed calls to bouncing pucks, the team has seen virtually everything thrown their way. Here’s why…
On October 24th, during a game against the Anaheim Ducks, Kevin Bieksa and Gudas dropped the gloves with about 3 minutes remaining in the first period. Bieksa sprang forward immediately and slumped Gudas with a superman punch. The fight sparked a major response on social media and quickly developed into a very embarrassing situation for Gudas. The Flyers lost the game 6-2. This was the day the curse was born.
Kevin Bieksa delivered a TKO on Radko Gudas with a "Superman punch" last night 😧
— Sporting News (@sportingnews) October 25, 2017
Following the fight, the Flyers won one game before spiraling into their ten game losing streak. At times, it seemed like all the forces in the universe were working against them. Little did we know, all the forces in the universe were working against them.
The higher powers in the hockey universe obviously knew Gudas was going to pull something atrocious at the time of the fight. They analyzed his disgraceful beating at the hands of Bieksa as well as his eminent suspension. After a few days of deliberation, enough time for the Flyers to squeak by a win against the Maple Leafs, the almighty Hockey Gods settled on a ruling. The only way to right his wrong was to dish the team who pays him an equal amount of loses to how many games he’d be suspended. Admit it, this is damn near indisputable!
So fear not, Flyers fans, for our misfortunes have ended! We’ve finally served our sentence and can now go on the Stanley Cup winning run we were meant for this season. A statement win against our valiant starting goalie’s former team is the perfect way to jumpstart a signature mid-season push. Things are looking up!
LET’S GO FLYERS!
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Mandatory Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports