Philadelphia’s Radko Gudas was not subjected to supplementary discipline for his hit on Daniel Catenacci.

Last Thursday, the Buffalo Sabres rookie was skating through the neutral zone with his head down, and then almost lost it completely.

Video: SPORTSNETCANADA

As you know, I think the head shot rule as it is defined right now is horrible, or at least how it’s being interpreted. In the overwhelming majority of cases, the hits that happen to make some form of contact with the head, whether primary contact or not, are being treated equally.

Don’t mistake that for a crusade to eliminate the head shot rule altogether. To be honest, this Gudas hit is one example that is really different from the rest. This is not a player skating by himself through open ice with full control and stupidly putting himself in harm’s way with exposing skating posture and lack of situational awareness. This is a player who’s already engaged in a position and puck battle, and his focus is understandably occupied.

That doesn’t make Catenacci magically unhittable. He’s still a threat that can be taken out legally with a hockey play. But where Gudas needs to be more controlled is with his own situational assessment.

Catenacci is obviously extremely exposed with his neck craned. Unlike most open ice hits where the chance of primary head contact is unpredictable, the position of Catenacci guarantees there is no possible way to cleanly hit anything other than the head in this case.

Where I’m really torn is that these guys have to make split second decisions, but I think it’s fair to say that Catenacci was in the same position for a significant enough amount of time that Gudas could have allowed contact in a different way. He didn’t have to make a last second shift and then thrust forward. He could have just let Catenacci run into him and basically hit himself.

While I’m almost always on the side of telling muffin to suck it up and take a hit, this is one example where I can kind of see the league’s point. The extra oomph by Gudas into the hit does make it kind of unnecessarily predatory, and I find it peculiar this is one rare case where the league has chosen to accept it at face value.

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2 thoughts on “Is Gudas Non-Suspension Sending The Wrong Message?

  1. Another typical puckhead view. Arguments about a player being “aware” of danger that he can’t see, and the aggressive simple minded puckhead taking it upon himself to punish that player with a head shot. Just because someone is unaware is no excuse to try and decapitate him. Goes back to my seatbelt analogy. If you see someone driving without a seatbelt on, does that give you the right to smash into them and kill or paralyze them, just to teach a lesson??? This country has turned into a simple minded, groin kick loving puckhead society.

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    1. Rob, I think in this case we might be saying the same thing. The point I was trying to make here is that sometimes even when someone is eligible to be hit, even when he has the puck, sometimes you really have to put player safety above the game. Of all the articles on my blog saying to not suspend, this is one where I’m saying the league SHOULD have suspended and because they didn’t, there’s going to be more instances like this that could have been prevented. Your seatbelt analogy I think is a little off because again, the driver in question hasn’t willingly entered a race where collisions are legal and expected to happen, but the point we’re both making here is that sometimes you just have to not hit someone for the simple reason that the chances of them being hurt are too great to take the risk.

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