Johnny Gaudreau on slashes that injured him: ‘It’s part of the game’

Injured Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau holds no ill will towards Eric Staal or the refs for the slash that has him out long term, saying it’s just part of hockey.

The Calgary Flames will be without star winger Johnny Gaudreau for roughly the next six weeks as he recovers from a broken finger sustained earlier this week against Minnesota on a slash from Eric Staal. That slash was the one that finally broke the finger, but Gaudreau had endured a few other whacks leading up to that one.

“There are tactics with good players, but when you chop a guy in the hand there’s a rule that says you can’t do that,” Flames GM Brad Treliving said Thursday. “We’re not naïve – do we whack guys, too? Probably. But the frustration comes when that turns into a player being out for an extended period of time.

“When you look at that game, it wasn’t the first one. This wasn’t a unicorn that popped up in the middle of a period. By our count there were 11 chops on (Gaudreau) in the game. Two, three, four, I got it, but maybe at nine we dial it in a bit.”

On Friday, Gaudreau spoke to the media for the first time since he was injured. The 23-year-old was disappointed and frustrated that he has to miss an extended period due to injury for the first time with the Flames, but he wouldn’t go so far as to blame the officials for not blowing the whistle on the many slashes to his hand.

“It’s tough for the refs to call hard slashes or whether it’s a love-tap. I can see why it’s difficult for them,” he said.

“It’s part of the game. I don’t know if it’s something they need to look at more. I know if guys are starting to miss 4-6 weeks with broken bones, maybe it is something they need to look at a little more. But it’s part of hockey.”

Gaudreau mentioned that this sort of thing happens to him and other players around the league regularly, so rather than pin the blame on refs, Staal or that this kind of play is allowed to carry on, Gaudreau suggested that when he returns, he may add more padding to his gloves to protect himself.

Calgary continues on without Gaudreau Friday night against the Chicago Blackhawks, who they lost 5-1 to earlier this month with Gaudreau in the lineup. In the first game their star winger missed, the Flames managed a 2-1 OT win over the Arizona Coyotes.