It’s been almost a week since South Jersey’s Johnny Gaudreau shocked the hockey world —and crushed the dreams of Flyers fans — by signing a seven-year, $9.75 million annual average value contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets in free agency.
But just as Flyers fans had started to move on from missing out on one of the premier offensive players in the NHL and tried to get back to enjoying their summers, more pain arrived Tuesday morning. That came in the form of Gaudreau’s appearance on the latest episode of the popular hockey podcast Spittin’ Chiclets, which was recorded Monday.
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During an interview with former NHL players Ryan Whitney and Paul Bissonnette along with cohost Brian McGonagle (known as “RA”), Gaudreau, who participated in the interview while vacationing in Avalon, was candid about his experience, including why he chose Columbus, the situation with the Flyers, and how former Boston College teammate Kevin Hayes tried to recruit him to Philly.
The big takeaway? Gaudreau, as some outlets have speculated, sounded like someone who was genuinely interested in returning home and playing for the Flyers. It wasn’t a slam dunk, but based on his comments, the Flyers definitely would have received strong consideration. Here are the highlights from what Gaudreau said pertaining to the Flyers. (Questions have been paraphrased for length.)
A: “I had three-four teams that I knew I wanted to play for. Columbus was obviously high on that list for me, but there were a few other teams, and the day of, I really was only talking to two of them. … Most of the day I hadn’t heard from Columbus, and they called at 4 and I told my agent I want to go here, just try to get this done. … and he got it done in an hour.”
A: “Yeah, obviously I have said it before in an interview … but it would always be cool to play for your hometown team, and obviously they didn’t have the cap space or anything, so I kind of knew they wouldn’t be around on free agency day a few weeks before. They [would have] had to make a ton of trades and this and that. I obviously kept an eye on it, but nothing ever came about.”
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A: “He was a little upset … He wanted me to come to Philly and was like, ‘Oh yeah, you can always come to Philly; we’d love to have you in Philly. I want to play with you someday.’ … I was like, ‘I’d love to play with you, too,’ but obviously Chuck [Fletcher] couldn’t get the space or whatnot together on that day.”
A: “I always said I wanted to play closer to home, but it [Columbus] isn’t too close to where I would get bombarded with friends and family nonstop… and basically an open-door policy [where you] come in whenever you want. That’s kind of how we are down the Shore, but … if we did it all year, I think it would have gotten a little out of hand at times. It’s far enough where my wife and I can do our own little family thing, we’re obviously having our first kid coming up, so it’s close enough where they can visit all the time… and we can do our own little thing at times, too.”