Perreault bemoans ‘stupid’ slash; Gudas accepts phone hearing (UPDATE)

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WINNIPEG — Mathieu Perreault didn’t shy away from expressing his feelings after nearly being decapitated on Thursday night by Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas.

“It was kind of stupid by him,” Perreault said after receiving a vicious two-hand chop to the back of his neck in the first period of a 3-2 shootout win for his Winnipeg Jets.

The play, reminiscent of an executioner in Medieval times striking an unlucky soul with an axe at the gallows, came after Perreault and Gudas were jockeying for position in the corner in Philadelphia’s zone. The result was a two-minute minor for high-sticking, assessed to Perreault, and a five-minute major and a game misconduct for Gudas, who is no stranger to getting a phone call from the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.

On Friday morning, the NHL offered the 27-year-old an in-person hearing with a date and time to be determined if Gudas chooses to accept.

Gudas was most recently suspended six games in October of 2016 for a cheap shot to the head of Boston Bruins forward Austin Czarnik.

It’s important to note that the offer of an in-person hearing means the suspension Gudas is facing could sail far north of five games. Given the Czech Republic native’s history, there’s little reason to think the head of player safety, George Parros, won’t throw a very hard book at Gudas.

Perreault, meanwhile, said he dodged a bullet on the play.

“He got the meaty part of the neck. It could have been worse if he got me in the side of the face or in the skull or bone,” Perreault said. “(Gudas) apologized in the penalty box, but when you look at the replay, it looks like he did it on purpose. It wasn’t an accident. He’s been known for doing stuff like that, so I certainly don’t appreciate it. I’m sure the league will take care of it.”

It certainly could have been much worse, as Perreault alluded to in his post-game comments, and more so given that the 29-year-old only returned to the Jets lineup on Thursday after a 12-game spell on the sidelines with a lower-body ailment.

Gudas’s rap sheet in the NHL is long. Here are some of his notable transgressions:

– Dec. 2, 2015 – Gudas is suspended three games for a needless headshot to then-Ottawa Senators forward Mika Zibanejed.

– February 2016 – Gudas receives three separate game misconducts in a span of sixteen days, the last coming on Feb. 16 for yet another head shot on New Jersey Devils forward Bobby Farnham.

– Oct. 3, 2016 – Another ejection, this time for boarding. A head was spared, this time.

– Oct. 8, 2016 – Ah, but not for long. Gudas’s latest run-in with the league prior to Thursday night came last season with another targeted shot to the head, this time at the expense of Boston Bruins forward Austin Czarnik. He was suspended six games.

– Oct. 26, 2016 – Another game misconduct for — you guessed it — an illegal shot to the head.

– Nov. 16, 2017 – Gudas makes like a lumberjack and tries to take Winnipeg Jets forward Mathieu Perreault’s head off.

UPDATE: Gudas has waived his right to an in-person hearing and will speak with the NHL Department of Player Safety over the phone on Sunday.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck.

Patrik Laine plays mind games with himself

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WINNIPEG — Perhaps it was all just an elaborate ruse.

Patrik Laine, the Winnipeg Jets’ superstar forward and the proud owner of a shot every NHLer (save for Alex Ovechkin) would kill for, recently declared hockey to be a “hard” game to play and admitted that he had lost the confidence he previously held in his game.

You see, Laine, a very good goal scorer already at 19 years of age, had only scored four times in 11 games and had gone four games without a tally.

Simply, it didn’t compute in the sniper’s head.

Stricken with a brief inability to score, Laine felt some self-inflicted ridicule would do the trick.

“I think he had that whole thing, I’m not saying scripted, but he puts pressure on himself because I think he enjoys it in some ways,” said Jets head coach Paul Maurice, adding that he believes Laine might just be smarter than us all. “He’s hard on himself. Kind of filleting himself in front of the world there, the hockey world, somehow gets him going, somehow drives him more.”

It’s all just a little macabre, no? Nevertheless, it worked.

Laine said Tuesday that to get out of his funk, he’d have to do one of his favorite things: shoot.

“That’s the key,” Laine said. “Because if you’re not shooting, you’re not scoring.”

It’s with this simple wisdom that Laine rattled off goals in five straight games after declaring hockey was harder than he appears to make it look.

His goal-scoring streak ended in a 4-1 win against the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday night, but Laine chipped in a helper to extend his point streak to six games.

“Maybe (my confidence is) not 100 percent but it’s getting higher all the time,” Laine said. “It feels like hockey – it isn’t getting easier, I mean, but it feels like a lot of fun.”

Meanwhile, Laine’s yet-to-be-written self-help book could revolutionize how athletes deal with low confidence.

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck.

Trevor Strader honors late dad with stirring rendition of U.S. anthem (Video)

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It was a touching scene inside American Airlines Center on Monday when Trevor Strader, son of late Dallas Stars play-by-play man Dave Strader, performed the national anthem before their game against the Winnipeg Jets.

The hockey world lost Dave Strader on Oct. 1 after he passed away following a long battle with cholangiocarcinoma, a rare form of bile duct cancer. While he was diagnosed in June 2016, he managed to work five Stars games last season as well as a few during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

[Stars announcer Dave Strader dies at 62]

This is the second straight year Trevor has performed during the the team’s Hockey Fights Cancer night. The lavender warmup jerseys players wore during warmups will be auctioned off with proceeds, along with those from a 50/50 raffle, benefiting charity, including the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation.

Strader’s voice is missed not only in Dallas, but all around the hockey world. Next week he’ll be honored during the Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Toronto as winner of the 2017 Foster Hewitt Memorial Award, which is gived to members of the radio and television industry “who make outstanding contributions to their profession and the game of ice hockey during their broadcasting career.”

“People who I’ve never met before, have talked to me for 20 minutes about not only what an incredible broadcaster he was, but how all he talked about was his kids,” Trevor Strader told Sean Shapiro of NHL.com. “Which I knew he was proud of us, so knowing we were always on the front of his mind, even at his job. He was always a dad and a husband first and then did his job. There has just been amazing support from so many people.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Jets’ Patrik Laine on struggles: ‘Hockey is really hard right now’

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The Winnipeg Jets are winning and sitting in a playoff spot in the Western Conference as the NHL season enters its second month. But Patrik Laine can’t relate to all those happy feelings at the moment.

Team success is great, of course, but the Jets forward, who’s scored four times in 11 games this season, is in a bit of a rut offensively. He’s pointless in his last four games, which includes an 0-fer during Sunday’s 7-1 rout over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Laine’s play of late is weighing on him, as he expressed after Thursday’s morning skate before facing the Dallas Stars.

“It feels like hockey is really hard right now, but I think everyone is going to have the same kind of feelings sometimes,” Laine said. “Just have to move forward and get through it somehow.”

Through the Jets’ first seven games, Laine was averaging 3.5 shots per game. Over this little skid, he’s fired a total of five shots in four games. Last season, he went two four-game spells where he went pointless. Both times he responded with a goal in the following game en route to a 36-goal, 64-point rookie campaign.

For now, Laine says he’ll work through by doing what he’s quite good at.

“Obviously I don’t have a lot of confidence, so just try to shoot a lot and try to be simple that way and just try to work hard every shift,” he said.

“Confidence is a really interesting one to get your head around,” said Jets head coach Paul Maurice. “The standard is hey, you’re getting your chances, just keep doing the right things, and it’s a standard because that’s all there is for a shooter until the puck gets by the goalie. Hitting posts doesn’t give a guy a whole lot of confidence for a guy that really values the goal scoring part of his game. It’s got to get in behind him. So we would start with all of these basics that would go into that and then if you’re not scoring goals there’s a whole lot of other things you could do to that can help your linemates score and help your hockey team win.”

It helps that Laine’s isnt’t he focal point of the Jets’ offense. It’s been a pretty balanced attack with 10 other forwards contributing to their 33 goals this season.

Last season, Laine had most of his success playing next to Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers. Over this brief slide he’s spent most of his even strength time with Ehlers and Bryan Little. So while he battles through these confidence issues in his game, we can be quite confident that he’s going to break out of this “slump” sooner than later. The talent he possesses is just too good.

“I’ve had bad seasons. I’ve had tougher situations than this,” Laine said. “And always I’ve found a way to come out of there. Hopefully I can do the same thing right now. I think I’m gonna do that.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Dustin Byfuglien, Matt Hendricks spend day off capturing monster fish (Photo)

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The Winnipeg Jets had some down time on Tuesday after beating the Edmonton Oilers 5-2 for their first victory of the season. Matt Hendricks and Dustin Byfuglien took advantage and spent the day fishing — and boy did they come home with a catch.

With help from fishing company Sturgeon Slayers, the Jets teammates took to the Fraser River in British Columbia and caught this monster.

The players couldn’t take it home because sturgeon are a threatened species, so the monster was released after posing for some photos.

Of course, this accomplishment didn’t happen without a bit of grumbling from some Jets fans. They were upset that Byfuglien, who sat out Monday’s game in Edmonton with a lower-body injury, was fishing instead of remaining in his hotel room covered in bubble wrap and hot towels. Head coach Paul Maurice, however, did not care.

“He had treatment. [He] did what he needed to do. [It’s a] soft-tissue issue,” Maurice said on Wednesday via the Winnipeg Free Press. “None at all. Just a little bit jealous, but no issue at all.”

Byfuglien will take the morning skate in Vancouver on Thursday but will not play against the Canucks. He’s considered day-to-day. Hendricks has been on injured reserve since the start of the season.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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