This Kid Who is Becoming A Man Has Your Back. Who Has His?

It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t toss in my 0.02 on this and if you feel as though you read enough about it, well then read some more.  In Monday night’s preseason game between the Florida Panthers and the Montreal Canadiens in which Florida was thoroughly demolished,a fight took place which has caused a ton of controversy.

Midway into the third period with the Habs leading 5-1, Montreal grinder Travis Moen hit Panther forward Evgeny Dadonov from behind sending him directly into the boards.  Coming to his rescue?  18 year old rookie defenseman Erik Gudbranson, who as you can see from the image above payed quite the price for his loyalty.  Gudbranson and the Panthers were furious with the ultimate outcome of the scrum which resulted in a nice gash below Erik’s left eye from Moen, after Moen continued to pummel Gudbranson while the officials attempted to break things up.  Or hold Erik’s arms from fighting.  Whichever way you want to look at it.

First of all, I am impressed with Big G’s willingness to stand up for his teammates.  Something that has been missing from this team since my daughter was about 8.  She’s a high school junior now, so do the math yourself.  Gudbranson an 18 year old rookie defenceman trying to make the team coming to the rescue of fellow players, is something unheard of here in Florida.  It’s actually refreshing as well as exciting. Here’s what Erik had to say about why he did what he did:

I wanted to fight him. I instigated it,” said Gudbranson, who jumped Moen only after Moen drilled Evgeny Dadonov in the back into the boards. “It’s a hockey fight. The fact that I was tied up didn’t help. He saw it and he threw the punch which wasn’t really good. I could’ve done it to him at the end when the refs were in I could’ve broken his nose but I didn’t do it.

These guys are my brothers while I’m here. These guys are my teammates, the guys I trust the most and when you take a cheap shot like that you better expect something coming. It was a little gutless of him throwing that punch. It was a hockey fight. I probably deserved it. He saw it, he took it.

Panthers head coach Peter DeBoer was bent out of shape about with the incident as well.  Here’s what he had to say:

I don’t know when it became all right in this league for a veteran guy to get a young kid hurt in a vulnerable position and keep throwing punches,’’ said an emotional DeBoer. “It was a play I don’t see how they could proud of.’’

The Panthers lack of toughness has been missing for years as I had mentioned earlier in this post, and it must change.  However as refreshing as it is to see Gudbranson coming to the rescue, it’s also a bit embarrassing that the “kid” is the one providing the muscle.  Regardless of the fact that it’s preseason and that it was a 5-1 trouncing at that point, there has to be a veteran that steps up instead.  If this kid had suffered a significant injury that would have kept him out for any length of time, the Panthers would never forgive themselves, and would be hard pressed to shake this sissy like behavior.

I firmly place the blame on coach DeBoer who for some reason has an aversion to enforcers.  So now the Panthers are looking forward to October 30th when they take on Montreal again.  So what! If he’s in Rochester, enforcer Andrew Peters will most likely be on a flight in time for the game.  Big deal!  He’s going to play what, three shifts? Put a guy on the roster that’s talented enough to play without worrying about his lack of skill, and that can also fight when needed.  Note to Pete:  This is an aggressive game, we need aggressive players.

New General Manager Dale Tallon expects more toughness out of this team and you can bet your arse that he’s gonna get it.  Bad enough teams are going to run all over us with their speed and skill.  Do they actually have to add insult to injury by beating the crap out of us physically too?  If players know that they can push us around with little or no retaliation it’s going to happen every game.

I’m not advocating playing like the Broad Street Bullies, but I expect my team to have some fight.  But not from an 18 year old!  I love the physical aspect of this kid and the game he plays, but damn it, it has to come from someone else.

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Tags: Erik Gudbranson Montreal Canadiens Peter Deboer Travis Moen

  • slapshot1106

    Nice to see the PRESENCE that Gud brings, especially for a young guy… Certainly something this team has been lacking for quite some time, I’m impressed with his PRESENCE moreso than his talent… The Panthers haven’t had a true leader for quite some time, but this kid seems to want to be the guy…

    Also, it would be nice if we could find a FWD that will be willing to have this kind of take-charge attitude.. I do think PDB would be more apt to play one of those types if we could find one.. JM was looking for a guy like Chris Neil, Shawn Hartnell, etc, but unfortunately when he couldn’t find one, chose to play one of our many softer, over-hyped, chracter-less fwds on the 4th line… He was hoping to create more offense, but when you constantly sacrifice character for potential, you never develop any sense of team image, thereby never creating any character, respect, or team chemistry… basically justifying a bunch of guys to play individually than as a unit..

    Even when we had Worrell, there was no team sense.. There were only a handful of guys in the whole league that would be willing to take on Worrell, so it was like wasted space… So even though Peters skill level may not be NHL-worthy, i think the character he’ll bring will help even if it’s only for 30-40 games… By now, it would’ve been nice if at least we had a young fwd or two in the system that could fit this type of role, but too many years trying to get lucky and draft a Bure-type led us to sacrifice quality-character types… Too many misses…

  • Frank Rekas

    Slap Shot: The hit or miss on the draft is right on. They haven’t drafted a “Big” forward in quite sometime. Repik, Frolik types don’t provide the physicality. Horton was likely the last big forward we drafted, and he obviously wasn’t as advertised.

    Can’t say enough about this kid. If there’s a way to keep him they need to figure it out. Maybe they can make a trade. Just not sold on Ellerby yet.

    • slapshot1106

      It’s nice to hear Ellerby has bulked up and is trying to be more assertive, but it sounds like he’s still AHL-bound, until he proves more…

      With an abundance of Dmen and FWDS, it would be nice to see if Tallon could swing a deal, even if it was to stock up on more picks for next year’s draft…. Maybe off-load a suspect contract like Allen with a fwd like Frolik, Bernier, McArdle,etc.. The Isles are in trouble with Streit and Okposo now out for a while… No team likes to admit they’re rebuilding or out of it right from the beginning of the year, but teams like the Isles and Wild seem to be lacking quite a bit… It would be nice if Tallon could take advantage…

  • Frank Rekas

    Yea, I was thinking of the d-man who just got hurt. Trading a guy like Allen to the Isles would make some sense. Package him with another forward or prospect such as Bernier or Repik who may never see NHL ice in a Panther sweater. They just don’t have too much to offer in return. Trent Hunter? As for Minnesota, they have even less to offer. Unless I’m missing someone.

  • slapshot1106

    Looking at the Isles roster, I’d rather have picks and prospects… Trent Hunter would be fine, but not a whole lot excites you there…

    The Wild don’t have many top fwds to get excited about, maybe Latendresse, but they usually have solid gritty guys that can be good character acquisitions… They’ll probably never give up Clutterbuck or Brunette, but trading 3 for 2 to add some more character players like Kobasew, even a Dmen out of Burns, Schultz, or Barker all would be upgrades over Allen… And I’m pretty sure they signed Staubitz from San Jose, who would be a really nice 4th line scrapper in case Peters stays mostly in Roch…

    All of this is speculation, but there’s got to be some opportunties out there… I haven’t heard much of Bitz. I’m not expecting much but character play, but maybe Tallon would be more apt to use guys like this to deal, if he’s not fitting into PDB’s plans…

    Also, I’m not really sure if Frolik has earned the right to play on the top line… If other teams value him in this regard, maybe it’s best to move him while there’s a lot of value… I’ll admit he does have a little flare to his game, but then also has a tendency to disappear other times throughout the season… Like you mentioned, Repik would be logical. The Panthers have excess fwds, not saying they’re Top6 guys, but too many sitting around that teams like the Isles, Wild, jackets might have an interest in… I still don’t think anyone has interest taking on stillman or Olesz, but I think our only keepers as fwds would be Booth, Weiss, Higgins with maybes in Matthias, Grabner, and Dvo for PK…

    As you mentioned, I think we should give Gudbranson every reason to stay… Even if it’s not for his talent yet, it’s for all the intangibles and leadership he seems to bring.. Confidence and character have long been missing. At the very least, he should be a 5th or 6th Dman. If he ends up eventually being a 3rd or 4th, then the pick is definitely justified…

    • Frank Rekas

      Slapshot: I have no problem moving Frolik. Wouldn’t worry too much about him becoming a superstar. Grabner could actually be better, and we can try Higgy on the top line to see if that gets him going.

      Bitz has missed practice including today. Unless he plays rough,and tough, I don’t see much in him.
      Yes we have a glut of forwards, but the return would be about the same. So we have to do a package and maybe include Allen or McCabe to get something decent back. Not sure if that’s on the horizon now.

  • HANK

    he’ll get his 10 game evaluation like kulikov did. Frank, bet you a cold one he stays with the big club.

    • Frank Rekas

      Hank: If he stays, I’ll buy you a cold one at the “Bank”. It would be worth the $24.00!!!