The IIHF World Championship exists in a nice little sweet spot between Olympic hockey and a post-season holiday.
It’s not a tournament to be taken lightly, but at the same time, many are still fighting for the Stanley Cup or resting one injury or another. The stakes are firmly medium.
In this type of environment it might be hard for players who have to go up against their NHL teammates to know exactly how to comport themselves. This is especially true for physical players like Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas.
That said, in Friday’s game between his native Czech Republic and Canada he demonstrated a pretty astounding ignorance of where the line lies by doing this:
— Steven Ellis (@StevenEllisNHL) May 5, 2017
Going hard into the corner with someone you call a teammate is obviously OK, a cross-check or two to show you mean business makes sense, but punching him clean in the face is not a great look.
If you watch the video closely there are three logical explanations as to how Gudas – who isn’t exactly known for being warm and fuzzy – wound up clocking the captain of both the Flyers and Team Canada.
1. He didn’t know it was Giroux
The change of camera angle makes things a little trickier, but it seems that throughout this sequence Gudas is jawing with Nathan MacKinnon and he never really looks Giroux’s way.
It’s possible that MacKinnon is his focus and he sees another Canadian player skating his way out of his peripheral vision and decides that the most logical course of action would be to throw a punch in that general direction. This is not the response most human beings would have to that situation, but coming from Gudas, it’s rather believable.
2. Gudas has always fantasized about clocking Giroux and finally got his chance
This is the most fun possibility. Perhaps Gudas has despised Giroux for years and has never been able to do anything about it. Destiny has denied him the opportunity to put one of his hardened fists into a face he finds truly insufferable – until now.
Then, he saw Giroux out of the corner of his eye and seized his moment. Extraordinarily unlikely, but very amusing to contemplate.
3. Gudas lost his temper for a moment and did something he regrets
It was a hockey game, he was competing hard and emotions were running high and perhaps that resulted in a regrettable action. This explanation is extremely tedious because it paints Gudas as neither an evil schemer or an unthinking monster.
Maybe he did know that it was Giroux, and he has nothing against the man, but in that one moment he did, because that’s how feelings work sometimes. How very human.
Whatever the reasoning behind the act, the two will have to work things out because they are stuck together in Philadelphia for the foreseeable future. Giroux is signed through the 2021-2022 season and Gudas is locked up through 2019-2020.
The optimist might say that they’ve got a couple things to work out. Alternatively, an irreparable icy awkwardness could seep into their relationship. Whatever the case may be, the Flyers 2017-2018 training camp just got a little more interesting.
MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY: