One of the more sought-after free agent defencemen this offseason rejected multiple contract offers from Canadian teams to stay out of the NHL limelight.
Before signing with the Anaheim Ducks as an unrestricted free agent earlier this summer, defenceman Radko Gudas reportedly received multiple offers from various Canadian teams. In a recent interview with Czech outlet DenikSport, Gudas revealed that the Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, and Toronto Maple Leafs all reached out to the blueliner to try and ink a deal. The 33-year-old, however, was not interested in playing hockey north of the border.
The reason? Gudas wasn't interested in the notorious scrutiny and pressure from Canadian hockey media, especially after his recent experience.
In the playoffs earlier this year — where Gudas’s Florida Panthers took an unexpected trip all the way to the Stanley Cup Final – the blueliner's run-in with the Maple Leafs was enough to sour the idea of ever playing for a Canadian team. Apparently, after just five total games against the Leafs — three of them being in Toronto — Gudas felt the crushing pressure of the media machine, even as an opposing player.
In an interview with @DenikSport, Radko Gudas said that he received offers from CGY & EDM & TOR. But he didn't want to play in Canada, especially in Toronto. He said the media pressure in the playoffs was crazy. He felt it even though he only played for Florida & not Toronto.
— Andy & Rono (@ARHockeyStats) August 2, 2023
Gudas opted to sign a three-year, $12-million deal with the Ducks this offseason, choosing the sunny beaches of Southern California over the hockey-crazed markets of the Great White North.
Now he might not be making it to the postseason anytime soon, or as often if he signed with the Oilers or the Leafs, but spending time around an up-and-coming team like the Ducks during his twilight years, all while having less than half the number of reporters asking him questions, seems like a decision Gudas is happy with.
This isn't the first time this offseason a player has turned down signing in Toronto due to the scrutiny that comes with playing in the city. Ryan O'Reilly said it was a factor in his decision to sign with the Nashville Predators after getting a taste of the limelight following a short stint in Toronto last season.
"A lot more stressful than I thought. But that was one thing that I wanted to try," O’Reilly told TSN 1050's First Up in July.
"It wasn’t the ultimate decision there. I think there’s so many things that come into play. But yeah, I think it was a factor as well. It is different. It is something I did enjoy from the time there. But I felt it was better to be somewhere else," he said.
Gudas ended his final season in Florida with two goals and 17 points in 72 games.