January 21, 2011
Star blueliner Erik Gudbranson has been stripped of his alternate captaincy and will miss a crucial game for the Kingston Frontenacs, according to his agent.
Mark Guy, who represents the Florida Panthers 2010 third-overall pick and Team Canada defenceman, has confirmed to Yahoo! Canada Sports that Gudbranson has lost his 'A' and will sit out Friday night against the Guelph Storm.
"It's a disciplinary action by the team as a result of some internal things that went on," Guy, of Newport Sports Management, said. "Erik's understanding and ready to accept his punishment and we'll move forward after this game and just get back to playing the game."
When contacted Friday morning by Yahoo! Sports, Frontenacs head coach Doug Gilmour denied he was set to bench his best defenceman.
"I haven't made that decision yet, this is nonsense what you're asking me right now," Gilmour said in a brief phone interview.
(Update, 7:35 p.m. ET: Gudbranson is not playing. Gilmour told a TV Cogeco interviewer no decision had been made on the 'A.')
Kingston is heading into a busy weekend. Its home games against Guelph and the top-ranked Saginaw Spirit are sandwiched around a Saturday road game against the Oshawa Generals, who they trail by seven points in the standings. The Frontenacs (21-17-2-2) have a good team on paper, but now sit fifth in the Ontario Hockey League's Eastern Conference.
Guy said Gudbranson, 19, has not had problems with the team.
"No, he has not," Guy said. "It's a one-off situation, one-game issue, a lot of time players that are as good and as elite as [Gudbranson] is are held to higher standards. He's accepting of what they've decided to do and will move forward."
The Frontenacs are 17-8-1-1 when Gudbranson, who made the Panthers in the fall only to be returned to junior after he could not come to terms on a contract, has been available. By comparison, Kingston is 4-9-1-1 when he has been away due to NHL camp, international play and a suspension.
Speculation began Thursday when Tyler King of Kingston radio station CFRC 101.9 reported the Frontenacs were set to suspend a "prominent" player.
In that phone interview Friday, Gilmour was asked point-blank how people might react if Gudbranson is not in Kingston's lineup.
"I don't think that anybody's business but ourselves and our team's," he said.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. (Photo: OHL Images.)