With suspension, two Preds go from difference-makers to disappointments

Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 12:28pm

They were considered potential difference-makers when they were brought to — or brought back to, in one case — the Nashville Predators.

Now, Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitisyn are definite disappointments.

The skillful forwards added to the sense of peril that precedes Game 3 of the Predators’ Western Conference semifinal series with actions that eliminated the possibility they could change the momentum. Franchise officials announced Tuesday morning that the pair would sit out Wednesday’s contest (8 p.m., Bridgestone Arena) for violation of team rules.

General manager David Poile informed the players of the suspension Tuesday morning. Both then took part in the day’s practice and skated as a unit with tough guy Brian McGrattan, who has played just one game since mid-January.

“They did what they [had] to do,” Radulov said. “I’m good with that. I’m disappointed and understand what is my mistake. I really hope that everything is going to work out for our team better and if I get a chance to play again, maybe in the future, I’ll do what it will take to help the team to win and basically that is it.”

There was no definitive word on whether or not either automatically is available for Friday’s Game 4 or if there is more they must do to atone.

As of now, Nashville is down two games to none to the Phoenix Coyotes. It faces the possibility of losing the first three games of a playoff series for the first time in franchise history without two of its top offensive performers.

Radulov has a team-high six points (one goal, five assists) and Kostitsyn is tied for the team lead with three goals, including one in each game of the current series, this postseason.

“It is very disappointing,” Poile said. “Anytime something like this happens, it’s disappointing. In the playoffs, it is even more so, to take out two of your better hockey players.

“[But] it was a pretty easy decision. … We’ve done the right thing by putting the team ahead of a couple of individual players. We will see where we go from here.”

Character questions have followed Radulov ever since he walked away from the Predators four years ago — while still under contract — to play in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League. Teammates and opponents alike have, at times, perceived him as a selfish player and a showboat.

Yet there never has been a doubt about his ability to produce offense. He had three goals and four assists in the final nine games of the regular season, after he finally returned to satisfy the remaining year on his NHL deal.

Likewise, Kostitsyn occasionally was criticized for his effort during his seven years with Montreal, which included 379 games. He has scored as many as 26 goals and notched as many as 53 points in an NHL season.

Nashville gave up a pair of 2013 draft picks to get him at this year’s NHL trade deadline.

“This team is not a perfect team,” Poile said. “This family is not a perfect family. You have to support your family at different times, and sometimes your child has to sit in the corner for a time out because it’s the right thing to do. It doesn’t mean that we love our children any less, or we like these players any less.

“We are disappointed in their behavior and we hope that what we are doing is the right thing for our organization and all the other team members. And we hope, going forward, that something like this would never happen again, especially at such an important time.”

Already, though, franchise leaders made clear they would do it again.

“There are certain things in sport or anything where you’ve got to have some rules and when they’re broken you’ve got to have some consequences,” coach Barry Trotz said. “Rules were broken so there were consequences.

“… The whole thing is that the Nashville Predators are about a team, the Nashville Predators are about accountability, the Nashville Predators are a team that you expect certain behaviors and certain rules to be followed, and they weren’t so there are consequences, plain and simple.”

10 Comments on this post:

By: sharko20 on 5/1/12 at 10:35

This is exactly the way to win the Stanley Cup...........

Looks like LA is getting the message from their coach. He has them all revved up and they are smoking the Blues. The central division is going down in style.

By: RTungsten on 5/1/12 at 10:37

No one ever remembers teams who do the "right thing" and lose.

By: thebullman on 5/1/12 at 11:04

Well, you may be right about nobody remembering who does the "right thing" and loses, but the way Radulov played in the 1st two games of this series, he won't be missed.

By: gid on 5/1/12 at 11:11

Rumor has it - both were spotted at a bar in Scottsdale well past Midnight on Saturday. The way Rad played on Sunday, I can see that, he was awful and didnt care. I am looking fwd to seeing Tootoo back on the ice (hopefully).

By: Lorenzo on 5/1/12 at 11:12

Now the Preds can get back to a core of team players who were successful before adding those two wild hairs. Number 47 will not be missed but #46 stings a little. This was his chance at overcoming the reasons he was dumped by Montreal

By: hattrick3 on 5/1/12 at 1:12

Mayor Dean is the happiest person in Nashville. This news has buried his tax hike annoucement. Well played.

By: alfie on 5/1/12 at 3:58

Well something had to change. Now back to our team before it was stacked at the deadline.

By: Rasputin72 on 5/1/12 at 5:06

Who cares whether or not the Predators win. They are already champions when it comes to fast talking the Davidson County government out of millions and millions and millions of dollars that benefit less than 10,000 Davidson Countians.

I would think that anyone who does not have the income to live in Belle Meade, Green Hills and Hillwood to immediately make plans to move out of the county . The savings will far surpass the extra gas.

By: GoodGrief on 5/2/12 at 7:31

Hey Rasputin72,
There are over 500,000 Nashvillians and we all benefit from having a pro hockey team in town. Every time Nashville's name appears on ESPN, NBCsports and NHL network it is dollars in all of our pockets. Why do you think a NASCAR driver changes hats 5 or 6 times in the winners circle. They value each hat change to be worth $50,000 to the advertiser. Nashville is represented on every sports segment of every local news cast in America. Wake up, smell the coffee and your welcome from those of us who support the Predators.

By: gid on 5/2/12 at 9:29

IF the Preds were not in the Arena the City would still have to pay 5M a yr just for upkeep. The Preds receive 7.8M from the City - so 2.8M for booking concerts, upkeep, vending, etc, etc. Close to 700k citizens attend the Preds games each year - I am sure that adds up to well over 2.8M in sales tax. Not included is the media coverage created by the Preds.