By Ian Oland
As the NHL nears an announcement of a potential return to play, Radko Gudas is voicing his displeasure that the league is trying to return at all. The NHL suspended its 2019-20 season on March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Gudas does not see any practical or safe way to return and worries about players’ mental health while being quarantined in a hotel.
Gudas made the comments at a golf tournament in Beroun, a town in his native Czech Republic. The quotes are from an interview aired on ČT Sport and were transcribed by the ČTK (Czech News Agency). RMNB’s Alexandra Petáková has transcribed the pertinent quotes into English.
“I think we shouldn’t play when the whole world is canceling seasons,” Gudas said. “Hockey would be the only team sport trying to power through it like this. They won’t let us go to the Olympics so we won’t get injured, but they want to keep the NHL season running in these times. If we kept playing, our sport would be swimming against the current a bit.
“Money is money, it’s what currently makes the world go round,” Gudas added. “It’s a bit sad that they are willing to risk the health of so many players for money.”
Nearly every hockey league across the world has shuttered their seasons, including the KHL, SHL, and the Czech Extraliga. The IIHF’s 2020 World Championship was canceled. Both the AHL and ECHL, the NHL’s two affiliate leagues, both announced they would not complete their seasons over the last month.
The NHL has considered plans where teams would play in several hub cities across North America. Players, staff, and officials would stay in hotels, quarantined away from the rest of the world.
“I don’t think players would manage to stay holed up in a hotel room the whole summer,” Gudas said. “That’s a step into one’s personal freedom. You can focus on yourself and your family in the summer. Even though everyone spent the last two, three months home, I still think staying in some hotel room all summer is just the right way to end up with depression.”
Gudas was also concerned about how quickly COVID-19 would spread among players if only one player contracted it.
“If one guy is infected, basically the whole league has it in a week, given how they are planning to have everyone play against everyone,” he said. “One stupid stumble and you can cancel it all again.”
During the interview, Gudas also talked about his contract and the possibility of re-signing with the Capitals. The Capitals acquired the third-pairing defender in a trade from the Philadelphia Flyers for Matt Niskanen. Gudas is in the final year of a four-year, $13.4 million deal he signed in June 2016 where he makes $3.35 million.
“I think there’s no chance [of re-signing with Washington],” Gudas said. “They are grappling with the salary cap. They have young players who will play under contracts more feasible for [the organization]. I think a lot of the guys with contracts about to expire will leave Washington.”
The Capitals have top prospect defensemen waiting in the wings in the AHL like Martin Fehervary and Alexander Alexeyev. Both players are on entry-level contracts.
“I believe I’ll stay in the NHL,” Gudas said. “Some teams have problems with defense. I’m keeping in shape and I sometimes check what’s going on with the league. I call the guys, text them. That’s about all I can do now. I’m waiting for the free agency market to open.”
Headline photo courtesy of the @Capitals
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