Washington Capitals defenseman Radko Gudas, who was acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for defenseman Matt Niskanen this past Friday, spoke to the Washington media for the first time via conference call on Tuesday afternoon. He discussed the team’s Stanley Cup potential, changing his game to stay out of the Department of Player Safety’s radar, and more.
Gudas: re: trade “a little shocked, but when I heard where I was going I was pretty happy”.
— NoVa Caps (@NoVa_Caps) June 18, 2019
“Obviously you guys know that I’m playing physical hockey and that I’m a simple player. But when the games get too fast so I need to be pushing away from my own net. Those are the things that I’m focused on.,” Gudas said on how he can help the team. “Obviously, I want to help the offense as well but the main thing I’m focused on is defense and how I can help. I’m going to work so that my teammates have my back and do anything, any role that the team wants me to play.”
While joining a new team can be hard for some players, Gudas helps that being with fellow Czechs, defenseman Michal Kempny and forward Jakub Vrana, will ease the transition. “Obviously, I have played with a lot of guys in the years that I have played in the league and with [Kempny] on the national team.,” he said. “We have played some important games together. I think in the years in the national team now and we know each other pretty well. I look forward to playing with them, too.”
On being in the same division as the Flyers, Gudas told the media “Obviously [the first meeting against them] will be coming. It will feel a little strange after playing four years with them but I can’t wait to see the fans. Obviously, it’s going to be exciting for me to play my old team but you know, I’m with a new group now and will have to go up against my friends that are not on my team now.”
Gudas’ 255 hits this past season were the 10th-most in the NHL. He certainly thinks that hitting can help spark a team as he said, “Yeah, 100 percent. You know, teams that are going to play against you will want to play physical as well. So I don’t think the other teams will like it if you’re hitting so much. You have to line up against them and I know hitting is my thing, so I can put things in their minds and spark the game up with an early hit and counter back.”
Gudas has been suspended four times in his career and is trying to still find a way to walk the line with being physical and staying out of trouble. He said, “Yeah, it’s obviously tough to be suspended these last few years. You know, I work on it in the last few summers and get used to the team to be able to play to the coach’s style with the lineup that we have. It’s always hard to just adjust but you still have to do it to get the Stanley Cup. The league’s getting younger and we want the Stanley Cup. It makes me tired.”
The 29-year old defenseman feels confident about his game from last year and is striving to get better next season, he told the media. “I am looking forward to working hard and I am trying to do that at the rink.,” Gudas said. “I believe that this team is good enough, so I think the team that’s going to be the most welcoming for me will work for it. You know, maybe somewhere that I tried to add a little bit to be [the players’] teammate and be a better player for my team. And so far, it’s been working for me every season. I continue to watch clips and see what I can work on. I try to do that and try to work my way into being a good player out there.”
Despite having a good year defensively last season, Gudas still doesn’t think that he got enough trust from the Flyers’ coaching staff (which had a change midseason). “It was a difficult year for us in Philly. A lot of people were looking for some players to be better but didn’t and you know, I feel like I am getting something there for a couple of years.,” he said. “I don’t think that’s something that [the players] deserved but it was just something that the coaches thought physically for us. I played the game like that and I’m completely fine with that because I’m trying to be the best [player] that I can be.”
Gudas said that he is trying to make multiple adjustments to get better for next season, including speed. On what he’s doing to get set, he said “Yeah, I’m trying to get quicker. You know, getting in the corner faster, where the puck is being and where the player is to make the first play along the boards to get the puck and get in the zone with it.,” Gudas said. “Obviously, from what I’ve learned, it’s important in the neutral zone and being able to ship some pucks into where the offensive chances happen. Looking across is always something that I am working on in the summer so I do that and I don’t want to get into too money details but whoever gets the puck quicker will get the momentum first.”
Gudas told the media that he has talked to head coach Todd Reirden and the rest of his staff. “I have been on the phone with him and the assistant coaches for most of Friday but you know, it was a big day for me in the middle of my family,,” he said. “It was anticlimactic but I have talked to all of those guys and with most of the players. I have been welcomed. I think that they are excited to work with me and so am I. I’m looking forward to that.”
On if the Capitals have Stanley Cup potential, Gudas responded: “Oh, a hundred percent.” “They have all of their winners from last year. They are contenders this year. They’re a team that’s in the [Stanley Cup] Playoffs every year,.” he said. “I’m going to play my simple game so I can know what to expect from them. I’ll be there for them in the back. That’s something that I’m trying to put towards my teammates so that they know what to expect from me and I do in the back there for them for my teammates. I’ll try to help the rush and help offensively to help as well. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last few years.”
Despite being on a team with physical players such as captain Alex Ovechkin and forward Tom Wilson, Gudas said that he will not make adjustments in terms of his physical edge. “I don’t think that I have to necessarily change a lot of things. I’m here to be physical as well so to believe in those players to play that way.,” he told the media. “Some players can continue to do that but I’m looking forward to playing with those guys. They’re great players and I don’t think that I’ll have to change much, I’ll just have to work on my game this summer and I think that I should be ready to go at the start of the season.”
By Harrison Brown