Go to an Everett Silvertips game and you’re bound to hear the crowd yell something that sounds like “goody”, very loudly and enthusiastically. They’re not yelling because they’re happy about the way the team is playing, although they’ve got good reason to be happy. The Silvertips sit in the middle of the WHL’s US Division and seem to be playing better and better.
No, the crowd is actually yelling, “Gudy”, to show their love for explosive defenseman Radko Gudas.
Everett drafted Gudas in the first round of the 2009 CHL Import Draft (20th overall) from the Czech Republic, where he played for two seasons with Kladno. Gudas also played on the Czech Republic team in the World Junior Championships in Ottawa. (Team Czech Republic lost to Team USA in the 5th place game).
Gudas is having a terrific season so far – with 7 goals and 9 assists for 16 points in 22 games. He also has an awesome +/- rating of +22. And if you haven’t seen this guy play, you’re missing out. Last weekend, I saw him deliver a hip check on Seattle Thunderbirds forward Prab Rai that sent Rai airborne. He plays much bigger than his actual size (5’11” tall/192 lbs) and I’ve seen players change their direction rather than collide with him.
The Carpenters Local Union #562 honored Gudas as its “Player of the Month” for September/October. According to an Everett Silvertips news release, he received 57% of the vote, the most ever for a player to date. The Union presented him with $100 for that honor. Gudas was also selected “Gem of the Month” for the same time period by Wagner Jewelers, who presented him with a watch.
Where does Gudas get his drive and passion for the game? Spend just five minutes talking to him and you’ll learn that he looks up to his father Leo, who played professionally in the Czech Republic and throughout Europe and coaches now. Leo Gudas was also a member of the Czechoslovakian team that won the Bronze medal in the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France (beating Team USA for the honor).
What else can we learn about Radko Gudas? Read on to see, among other things, how he spent his summer, the biggest adjustments he’s had to make since moving to Everett, the player he looks up to aside from his dad, and one dish he loves to have his mother cook for him.
KING 5: How’s the season going for you so far?
RG: We started the season pretty good for our team. I scored sometimes and that’s good for us. I like it so far.
KING5: You had a very busy summer. You came here to the States. You went to Los Angeles Kings camp for a little while. Tell me how that went.
RG: It was a pretty good experience. I was there in the summer in (Kings) development camp and they invited me to the rookie camp so I really enjoyed it. LA’s a great city and the training camp and rookie camp were pretty good.
KING 5: What was the most important thing you learned down at rookie camp?
RG: At rookie camp, there were many things I learned. The hockey is different from Europe so I had to change my style for playing to another system and smaller ice. Those are the most important things I learned there.
KING 5: I know that the ice is much bigger in Europe. How have you had to change your game from playing in the Czech Republic to playing in the US?
RG: I try to play the same all the time, but (here) there’s not so much space behind the net for D-men so it’s a little bit different to break out from there.
KING 5: How old were you when you first started skating?
RG: When I first started skating, I was 2 or 3 years old when I got skates with two blades on each leg. Then, at 3 or 4, my father just put me on the ice to play. He decided for me. (laughs)
KING 5: At what point did YOU decide you want to make a career of playing hockey?
RG: I don’t know if I have decided. I just took hockey as part of my life. It’s the biggest part of my life. I’ve always loved hockey. I was never thinking about if I want to play or not. I always wanted (to play).
KING 5: In addition to playing juniors, you also played for the national team in the World Juniors. Tell me about that experience.
RG: The World Juniors last year was the biggest experience for me in hockey because the players I was playing against were really good and Ottawa, those fans were amazing when we played against Canada. I really enjoyed it. I scored a couple of times and won some “best player” (player of the game honors) so it was pretty good for me.
KING 5: Was the trip to Ottawa (for World Juniors) your first trip out of Europe?
RG: It was my first time in Canada.
KING 5: I know a lot of kids come here to play from around Canada, leaving their families and living with families here. You’ve traveled quite a long way away from your family and now living with a billet family here. How are you adjusting?
RG: So far, I really like my billet family. They are pretty good people. I think I am now a part of their family and I keep in touch with my family. They will come in about 40 days, my mom and my sister, because my dad is busy with work. So now, it works good. I miss them. That’s normal, but I think it’s part of life to stand on my own legs.
KING 5: What do you like to do when you’re not playing hockey?
RG: When I’m not playing hockey, I like to sleep. (laughs) Hang out with guys, it’s pretty good here. I played soccer a couple of times but I’m not very good at soccer. (laughs) I like to bicycle, but I spend almost all of my free time practicing and doing something with my father for hockey.
KING 5: Did your father ever coach you when you were a child?
RG: He coached me all the time. He showed me lessons when we watched games. He called me after every game and tell me what I could do better. When I started playing with adults three years ago, he was the assistant coach where I was playing.
KING 5: So you got to spend a lot of good time with him.
RG: Yes. I did. Yes.
KING 5: Do you have a pre-game meal that you eat every time or do you change what you eat?
RG: I change the kind of sauce, but mostly I have pasta or chicken, the same as other guys. It’s the best pre-game meal.
KING 5: If your mother was going to cook your favorite meal for you, what would that be?
RG: In Czech, it’s called “svichkova”. It’s meat with dumplings and some typical Czech sauce on it. “Svichkova” in English translation is “candle sauce”. (Note: According to a website about Czech food, Svickova na smetane - slices of beef or pork - (svichkova-na-smettan-eay) served with sliced bread dumplings. The meat is covered in gravy and topped of f with cranberry jam and cream.)
KING 5: Aside from your father, who was your favorite player growing up?
RG: I don’t know if I had favorite players. I was always looking up to my dad. But now, my favorite player is Dion Phaneuf (Calgary Flames). He plays quite the same style as me. He’s got a lot of hits. He also knows how to score and has good moves with the puck. I really like his play. I would like to be the same kind of player as him.
KING 5: What music do you listen to, to help get you pumped up for a game?
RG: I’ve got my special music. I like to listen to metal. I like gothic metal, like Nightwish with the old singer (Tarja Turunen), not the new one (Anette Olzon). And I listen to Godsmack.
Here’s another thing you may not know about Radko Gudas. He speaks 5 languages: English, Swedish, German, Slovakian and, of course, Czech. He’s also been ranked 21st among WHL players by Central Scouting in its first of 3 ranking reports leading up to the NHL Entry Draft in June. If he continues to play the way he is now, there’s no doubt that an NHL team will snatch him up. Until then, take advantage of every opportunity you have to see him in action with the Everett Silvertips at Comcast Arena. You can find more information about their schedule and track his stats by clicking here.