From the moment he was traded to the Anaheim Ducks on Monday, Cutter Gauthier has been pilloried in some circles, with social media-fueled attacks on his character after the Philadelphia Flyers effectively said good riddance to their former prize prospect.
Gauthier answered questions Wednesday about the stunning deal, which saw the Flyers trade the 19-year-old Boston College standout and recent United States world juniors gold medal winner to the Ducks for young defenseman Jamie Drysdale and a 2025 second-round draft pick.
The reaction to reports about Gauthier’s recent dealings with Philadelphia — or perhaps lack thereof — was so toxic that Gauthier said he received death threats via social media. Most of the questions Gauthier has faced have centered around one simple one: Why didn’t he want to play for the Flyers?
“That’s the question (that) kind of everyone’s wondering, and the biggest thing I can say right now is I have to keep it to myself, my family and my agent,” Gauthier said. “It’s been a long process in the past handful of months of dealing with this. I don’t think it’s the right time to kind of discuss it. There might be one day where I kind of get into details on what happened. Right now, I want to keep it to a private matter.”
During a 30-minute telephone call with local reporters, Gauthier said his head is “kind of spinning” in the two days since the trade, and emphasized he’s excited to join Anaheim after his college season ends. He also pointed to death threats in describing the visceral reactions he’s received.
“There’s been a lot of good and bad,” he said. “A 19-year-old kid getting a lot of death threats and a bunch of thousands and thousands of people reaching out and just saying some pretty poor things that I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy, it’s pretty tough to see, obviously. But it’s a business. With all the rumors spreading around that aren’t true, it’s kind of tough to go out and say one word or anything to kind of quiet those people.
“But, you know, people are going to have opinions. People are going to say things. I can’t tell them to have an opinion or not. It’s been definitely a little bit of a stressful situation (the) last 48 hours.”
Expanding on the threats he’s received, Gauthier said: “My (direct messages) right now and Instagram are kind of pretty crazy of what people are saying. There’s been thousands and thousands of messages. I’m still getting some five, 10 minutes ago. And it’s kind of cruel what people are saying.
“I didn’t really mean to put any harm into anyone. I just was looking at a situation, kind of I’d say a pigeon view from above. I thought it was best for me to make the decision I made. Obviously some people aren’t going to be happy with it. I’m not here to please everyone. I’m here to do what’s best for me and my future. I felt that’s what I did. Obviously, people aren’t going to be too happy with that. Yeah, some pretty cruel things that people are saying.”
While he understood the amount of interest that would follow in the aftermath of the trade, Gauthier admits it’s been tough for him to stay off his cell phone or social feeds. But there has been support amid the backlash.
“It’s kind of tough when it’s all right in your face right there,” he said. “You pull up Twitter and you see my name and every report of what’s going on and everyone having their own opinions. It’s kind of tough not to completely stay away from it.
“Like I said before, it’s a business. People are going to say things, especially in the situation we are in right now. It’s kind of tough knowing the real reason why and seeing people put all these false statements out there. Not being able to really express what really happened yet. It’s been kind of hard, but it’s also been good, too. A bunch of people have reached out to me.
“You can definitely see who your circle of friends are in situations like this. It’s definitely been good for the most part and obviously a handful of bad things from Flyers fans.”
In the time since the trade, Gauthier said he did go back and forth on whether to fully explain what went behind going from the Flyers’ No. 5 choice of the 2022 NHL Draft to requesting a trade from them last April after his freshman season with the Eagles concluded. He opted for the discretion of privacy.
“I’ve seen kind of all the rumors that are spreading right now,” he said. “It’s kind of just funny what people are saying at this moment. I don’t think I’ve seen one thing that’s been said that’s been spot on on the reason why this all transpired. People like to talk and people like to make things up and other people like to listen.”
Another aspect of the trade Gauthier sought to dispel is the notion that he didn’t want to play for Flyers coach John Tortorella. He said his interaction with him was positive.
“All those rumors saying I was scared of Torts, that’s not the case at all,” he said. “I’ve had many (tough) coaches throughout my whole life and I think that any coach I will play for would love to have me on their team. I want to do whatever it takes to win. If they’re a hard, yelling, screaming kind of coach, I’ll roll with the punches. I’m never going to disrespect or talk back to a coach. I’m going to give it my all every single shift. That was definitely not the reason why I didn’t want to play in Philly.
“I actually met Torts during dev camp two years back. I was super excited and thrilled to meet him. Obviously, being a big name in hockey and the coaching staff industry, I definitely was not against playing for him whatsoever.”
And while he stayed away from specifics about the Flyers and his dealings with them, Gauthier specifically took issue with St. Louis Blues forward Kevin Hayes being described as someone who influenced his desire to play elsewhere. Hayes, who played with the Flyers from 2020-23, is a former BC player who Gauthier has gotten to know well.
“I’ve kind of seen all the rumors going around about Kevin Hayes having his fingerprints on this,” Gauthier said. “I want to clarify that he has nothing to do with this whatsoever. He has absolutely nothing (to do with it). Some of the people who are kind of saying this stuff about his family and stuff like that, (it) is pretty gutless. He has zero fingerprints on this whatsoever.
“I haven’t spoken to him in a long time. I just wanted to clarify it. It’s not just his word against everyone else’s. I wanted to make sure that (it’s known) he was definitely not involved in this whatsoever. It’s kind of disrespectful to him and his name that he was being brought into this.”
The Ducks made the trade with the strong belief and knowledge that Gauthier would sign with them after he completes his sophomore season with the Eagles, who are the top-ranked team in college hockey. Gauthier said that is his plan and his NHL debut could still come if the Eagles were to play for the NCAA title, as Anaheim plays its season finale five days after the championship game. He said he’s been in touch with current Ducks forwards Troy Terry and Leo Carlsson.
But the prospect of him playing his first game in Philadelphia will have to wait as the Ducks already made their lone visit in October. Asked what he anticipates the first game at Wells Fargo Center will be like, Gauthier said “chaotic.”
“I got that (future) date circled on my calendar big time,” he continued. “I can’t wait to go out there and play my game in front of those fans and do my thing. I’m really looking forward to that game.”
(Photo: Andy Lewis / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)