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Bolts coach Boucher praises ‘head hunter’ Gudas

Mar 18, 2013, 1:12 PM EDT

Though he’s only played three NHL contests, Tampa Bay rookie defenseman Radko Gudas has already made a big impression on his head coach, Guy Boucher.

“He’s a head hunter,” Boucher told the Tampa Bay Times. “He’s one of those guys that hits you clean but extremely hard.”

Gudas, 22, was taken by Tampa in the third round (66th overall) of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. He’s spent the last three seasons with AHL Norfolk/Syracuse and, this season, made his NHL debut in a 3-2 win over Florida — during which he did this to Panthers forward Kris Versteeg:

The hit knocked Versteeg out of the contest and led to season-ending knee surgery, but both Gudas and Boucher insisted the hit was clean.

“It’s the type of my game. I play the body,” Gudas told the St. Petersburg Times. “I wasn’t going to hurt him or anything. I went for the puck and turned my back to him and he kind of tried to jump around me.

“It’s something that happens in hockey. I obviously didn’t want him to get hurt or anything.”

Boucher said the hit “wasn’t cheap” and “wasn’t anything, just bad luck for Versteeg.”

Boucher also said he’s quickly gaining trust in Gudas, who he compares to former hard-hitting defenseman Darius Kasparaitis.

Gudas is doing all he can to reprise the role.  He has 14 hits and seven blocked shots through three games and played a career-high 20:03 in a 4-1 win over Carolina on Saturday.

“He’s been terrific,” Boucher said. “We knew he was good. We knew he was probably ready. We just needed to put him on the ice and see how close he is. And he’s not just close, he was probably our best defenseman (Thursday in a loss to the Islanders) and almost our best defenseman in his first game in the NHL.

“He’s been doing it all right now.”

  1. boltsfan777 - Mar 18, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    He shouldn’t have trimmed his beard, but if he keeps playing smart defense and completing his checks, it doesn’t matter.

    • eigglesnosuperbowls - Mar 18, 2013 at 5:08 PM

      How can you be described as a head hunter and clean at the same time ! I would like to see if a flyers coach described one of his players as a head hunter he would get a game misconduct in the pre game skate ! I never heard of a clean hit to the head !

  2. valoisjoeybfeld69 - Mar 18, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    Nothing dirty about this incident. Boucher should use another term to describe Gudas style of play. “Head hunter” is a little strong and inappropriate. He’s a very physical d man for sure.

    • eigglesnosuperbowls - Mar 18, 2013 at 9:50 PM

      He looks more like a knee hunter after watching him tonight against the flyers !

      • valoisjoeybfeld69 - Mar 18, 2013 at 9:57 PM

        Hahahaha! Do you think he intentionally went hunting for Versteeg’s knee?

  3. sjsharks66 - Mar 18, 2013 at 1:45 PM

    Who will have more hits tonight, Rinaldo or this guy? Haha

    • eigglesnosuperbowls - Mar 18, 2013 at 9:52 PM

      I don’t know who will have more hits but Zak will have more clean hits !

      • eigglesnosuperbowls - Mar 18, 2013 at 9:58 PM

        If your keeping count ZAK knocked 2 Bolts out of the game with clean hits ! They did not return !

  4. mclovinhockey - Mar 18, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    Ummm head hunter and clean don’t mix. Head hunter means he is out to hurt someone, looking for a time where he can knock a guy out for a season.

    So yeah head hunter is the wrong term to describe a clean player. Just say he is a beast and that’s that.

    • mathieug79 - Mar 18, 2013 at 3:28 PM

      I agree it was probably a bad choice of words, but If you read the whole article you know exactly what it means. He is a Beast! As a lightning fan who follows every game, I can tell you his hits come second to his poise, He comes out of our zone with the puck, he makes passes on the tape, he gets the puck out of the zone when we’re in trouble, he doesn’t throw the puck away, if he can’t find an option he waits it out. We have defensemens that could take notes from his play (Brewer, MA Bergeron, Lee, to name a few). I still can’t wait for the bolts to bring up Mark Barberio, he can work the powerplay, he can get shots through to the net, he can make tape to tape passes (judging from his play in Junior as a Moncton Wildcats).

      I’d like to see MA Bergeron released, he can’t help this team anymore, Unless we want to go for the 1st overall pick. I’d rather see us give our rookie a chance to perform at the NHL level, see if they can make the push for a playoff spot. If not they can be sent down after the season to with Syracuse for their playoffs.

  5. phillyphannn83 - Mar 18, 2013 at 5:12 PM

    4:1 him and Rinaldo drop the gloves tonight!

    • mathieug79 - Mar 18, 2013 at 5:47 PM

      doubt it, I would pick anyone but Rinaldo for my first ever NHL fight!

  6. lsxphotog - Mar 19, 2013 at 1:47 AM

    Yes, because hits directly to the head are clean to a Flyers fan who probably throws his trash on the filthy streets of a grimy city.

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