Adam Gaudette has had a rough go of it lately. From the highs of his college career to the lows of a COVID-19 infection (and the backlash he faced), he needed an opportunity to get his career back on track. It looks like he could get his opportunity with the Senators, who picked him up off waivers from the Blackhawks last week. It could turn out to be a shrewd pickup for Ottawa.
Gaudette a Proven Scorer
Beginning in the NCAA, Gaudette has scored at every level he’s played. With Northeastern University in 2016-17, he put up 52 points in 37 games and followed that up with a 30-goal, 60-point campaign the year after, winning the Hobey Baker award to boot.
To win that trophy, he beat out names like Troy Terry, who’s having a breakout campaign in Anaheim, as well as Ryan Donato and Henrik Borgström. Although leading the league in scoring or winning the Hobey Baker Award doesn’t necessarily translate to NHL success (ask Drew LeBlanc and Blake Geoffrion), it was a positive for his young career. In fact, for every Geoffrion and LeBlanc, there’s a Cale Makar and Jack Eichel.
From there, he split time between the Canucks and their AHL affiliate in Utica, finally locking down a full-time NHL role in 2019-20. He took full advantage as well, scoring 12 goals and 33 points in 59 games for a nice breakout season.
But since then, he hasn’t been able to reach that level, with 14 points in the 59 games. Perhaps he lost some confidence during the 2019-20 playoffs, where he put up zero points in 10 games. Perhaps he was nothing but a one-year flash in the pan, but the article I’m writing about him doesn’t end here, so there’s clearly more to the story.
Gaudette’s Digestive Disorder
For years, Gaudette suffered in silence. He had trouble eating, the smell of certain foods would make him nauseous, and he would vomit often, but he couldn’t figure out why. “After a game, I’d have a protein shake and wouldn’t be able to eat for hours after. I just wasn’t getting the nutrients and the food in me” (from ‘Blackhawks’ Adam Gaudette anticipates big offseason after overcoming candidiasis’, Chicago Sun Times, May 4, 2021).
This led him to lose 10 or more pounds throughout a hockey season, hitting a low after his bout with COVID-19, when he weighed under 170 pounds. With a 6-foot-1 frame, he knew he’d be more effective if he was bigger and stronger but simply couldn’t stomach anything.
Near the end of his tenure with the Canucks, he did some blood tests, which led doctors to diagnose him with Candidiasis, an overgrowth of Candida, which is a naturally occurring yeast in the digestive tract. His Candida levels were 250 percent above normal (from ‘Stronger, faster and (mostly) vegan, Blackhawks’ Adam Gaudette has ‘changed who I am as a player’’, Chicago Sun Times, Aug. 7, 2021).
Gaudette’s Diet Changes
Studies show that Candida thrives on refined sugars and starch. So Gaudette made a significant change to his diet and is now eating healthier than ever. He still eats meat every now and then but opts mostly for nuts, seeds, beans, veggies, tofu, and “fake bacon” (from ‘Stronger, faster and (mostly) vegan, Blackhawks’ Adam Gaudette has ‘changed who I am as a player’’, Chicago Sun Times, Aug. 7, 2021).
Not only is he eating healthier, but he’s also eating much more, around 4200 calories per day. All the hard work has paid off; he’s now up to 195 pounds. He thinks it will lead to a change in his on-ice effectiveness. He feels faster and stronger and states that weighing 195 pounds is going to help him “come out on top of those battles a lot more” (from ‘Stronger, faster and (mostly) vegan, Blackhawks’ Adam Gaudette has ‘changed who I am as a player’’, Chicago Sun Times, Aug. 7, 2021).
While watching the Senators versus Canucks broadcast, I noticed that the commentators alluded to Gaudette experimenting with healing crystals. But experimenting might be putting it too lightly. He carries Tiger’s Eye Blue around with him and sages himself and his house with Dragon’s Blood (from ‘Tiger’s eye blue? Dragon’s blood sage? Chicago Blackhawks forward Adam Gaudette saw the path to regaining confidence as ‘crystal’ clear.’ Chicago Tribune, Nov. 11, 2021).
It all started with his wife and mother-in-law, who he says are in touch with their spiritual side. They enjoy palm readings, and Gaudette says his mother-in-law has a “sixth sense” (from ‘Tiger’s eye blue? Dragon’s blood sage? Chicago Blackhawks forward Adam Gaudette saw the path to regaining confidence as ‘crystal’ clear.’ Chicago Tribune, Nov. 11, 2021).
At first, he was skeptical of all of it. But now, he truly believes that crystals and sages can impact his game and his life. He swears by them, stating that they are just another thing out there that gives him energy and a “higher power that you can’t see but you can feel” (from ‘Tiger’s eye blue? Dragon’s blood sage? Chicago Blackhawks forward Adam Gaudette saw the path to regaining confidence as ‘crystal’ clear.’ Chicago Tribune, Nov. 11, 2021). I say, if it works, then it works.
Gaudette This Season
Well, maybe it doesn’t work. At least not yet. This entire story, his digestive disorder, the diet change, the Dragon’s Blood, it all occurred before the start of this season.
Yet he put up two points in eight games for the Blackhawks and was promptly put on waivers. So what’s wrong?
One possible answer is that Gaudette was used primarily as a winger in Chicago, where he averaged 10:16 in ice-time per game. He has always been a centreman, and with Ottawa, that’s where he’s playing. He’s excited to be back in the position in which he’s most comfortable, and he’s ready to help the team get back to winning hockey.
He cites his shot as a valuable asset and hopes to use it more often, especially on the power play on his off-wing. “I like to shoot as much as I can from that spot, mostly one-timers, so I think that will be a good threat” (from NHL.com, ‘Gaudette excited for new opportunity with Sens,’ Dec. 1, 2021). He turned that talk into a goal in his Senators debut, from you guessed it, his off-wing on the power play.
But if he wants more consistent ice-time, he’s going to have to do more. After scoring, he had a bit of a nightmare in his own zone, making a bad decision and coughing up the puck (as shown below), leading directly to a goal and a seat on the bench for most of the night. He finished the night with 8:20 of ice-time.
These sorts of blunders can be fixed. Young players have turned their defensive play around in the past, and Gaudette seems to have the right attitude for it. He has proven that he can be an effective player and score some big goals.
The Senators might not get results immediately, but if they’re patient with the 25-year-old and re-sign him, he could be a good replacement for Chris Tierney or Colin White if they don’t stick around. Who knows, he could end up being a solid third or fourth-line centre for them in the future, perhaps in a Cup run three years down the line?
Thanks for reading. Leave a comment or share if you agree or disagree.
Writer and hockey addict from the GTA, covering the Ottawa Senators. Leafs fan from birth, moved to BC to explore the mountains and find the strength to keep cheering. Love talking prospects, potential, and coaching strategies.