Shockingly, Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas will not be suspended for his hit on Buffalo's Daniel Catenacci, delivered in the waning minutes of last night's 5-1 win over the Sabres. He won't even have a hearing with the Department of Player Safety about it. Here's the hit in case you missed it:
We don't know the NHL's reasoning behind not suspending Gudas, but we are guessing that it has something to do with the crouched, vulnerable position that Catenacci was in. He's ducking, and his head is down, and it is indeed true that Gudas would not have hit him in the head had he been upright.
But I don't think that should apply in this case, to be honest. Gudas is a guy who is known to play on the edge, and he has certainly leveled his fair share of borderline hits in the past -- even in just the one year he's been a Flyer. This one was over the line for several reasons.
1. For starters, it just wasn't necessary. The Flyers were up 5-1 with three minutes left. You don't need to deliver a big hit at this point in a game that's already been won, and you don't need to do something that put your team on the penalty kill for the remainder of the game. Also, Catenecci was already tied up with Chris VandeVelde. He wasn't a threat.
Now, the hit being "unnecessary" doesn't make it suspendable. But this should:
2. It's not as if Catenecci ducked at the last minute. He was off-balance and vulnerable for like a 5-10 second period before Gudas delivered the hit. He skated nearly halfway across the neutral zone while in that posture.
Here's the point of contact. It's a head hit.
For Gudas to hit a player in that position is just unnecessary and unsafe. He knew what he was happening -- that Catenecci wasn't a threat with the puck and that he was a vulnerable player -- and delivered the hit to the clear to the head anyway.
Unfortunately, to the letter of the law it could be considered a legal hit since Catenacci was in a vulnerable position, and the rule doesn't cover players being predatory or dirty in those situations even if they deliver what's otherwise considered a clean hit. So maybe this isn't n the Department of Player Safety as much as it's on the rulebook.
Nevertheless, it's reckless and these are the kind of hits that should be suspensions in the NHL.