Any devoted Tampa Bay Lightning fan saw it. November 14, 2013. An early season game between the Bolts and the Anaheim Ducks in the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas levels Ducks forward Teemu Selanne with a hit so devastating, that the Forum faithful simultaneously groaned and cheered. Groaned because nobody over the age of 40 should ever be hit like Selanne was, and cheered because Gudas was the hitter.
The hit made top ten lists everywhere for that week, that month and the season. In fact, when the Lightning 2013-2014 season was compacted into a 60 second video, this hit was included. I bet even Gudas’ beard hurt on that hit.
While this hit is noteworthy, this wasn’t the only highlight of the first full NHL season played by Radko Gudas. Yes, he scored three goals and added 19 assists. But Gudas will never be considered an offensive defenseman.
He did have 152 penalty minutes which may seem like a lot, but for the 73 games he played it averages out to 2.08 penalty minutes a game. Okay, maybe it is a lot, but in my opinion, I think Gudas was hosed on more than a few calls because his hits are teeth rattlers.
It seems that over the last 10-15 years, the hip check is a lost art in the NHL. Sure, guys like Niklas Kronwall of Detroit have been laying people out well perfectly timed hip checks, and I may be showing my age, but I remember games where multiple hip checks were executed in every game, to prevent rushes in the attacking zone.
Well, Gudas must have learned from an old time hockey coach because he lays hip checks that are bone crushing, glass shaking and crowd pumping. The timing on his hits is so pinpoint, that I’m sure the opposing player feels it in his pinky toe. I’m also sure they think twice about testing Gudas a second time.
Radko Gudas has to be considered one of the NHL’s top or most feared hitters. The great news for Bolts Nation is he’s only 24 years old. This kid is going to continue to improve. The Lightning coach, Jon Cooper also coached Gudas when he was in Norfolk and Coop had this to say three years ago about the bearded Czech “There’s nobody you’re going to put on the ice that will be more competitive or tougher than Gudas. His hits are not dirty. He just knows how to line a guy up. Teams don’t come across the middle that often when he’s on the ice. He’s a throwback. He is all meat and potatoes and he hits like a truck.”
There you have it, Radko Gudas is a throwback. He plays the game the way Gordie Howe and Ted Lindsay did for Detroit back in the 1950’s. No, I wasn’t around back then but because I love this game, I know that Lindsay was the NHL’s original bad ass. As far as Howe is concerned, you must know what a Gordie Howe hat trick is to be considered a true hockey fan. A goal, an assist and a fight. Old School Hockey.
I agree with Coop’s assessment, Radko Gudas isn’t a dirty player. He hits hard and the fact that his targets eyes roll to the backs of their heads gives the refs pause and sometimes they call a penalty on the Bearded One.
In due time, Gudas will receive his respect. I can see it little by little now, when Radko is on the ice, the other team treads more lightly in his area. Heads are on a swivel. Because if they are not, you will receive a bone crushing check from our Bone Crushing Czech.