'Selfish' Preds duo suspended for breaking curfew
Nashville Predators' Andrei Kostitsyn (C) celebrates his second period goal against the Phoenix Coyotes with Nick Spaling (L) and Francis Bouillon during Game 1 of the NHL Western Conference semifinal hockey playoffs in Glendale, Arizona, April 27, 2012. (REUTERS)
Nashville Predators forwards Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn apparently decided that going out the night before Game 2 in Phoenix and breaking curfew was a good idea.
As a result, the Preds will be without the skilled skaters for Game 3 of their second-round series against the Coyotes, a series Nashville trails 2-0.
In what was really the only decision available, the Predators suspended the pair for the game Wednesday night.
"Their behaviour was not committed, not focused, not conducive to allowing the team to be successful," Predators general manager David Poile said Tuesday. "What they did was unacceptable and the coaches and myself had to come to the plate and do the right thing for the team.
"It happened. It's really unfortunate. It's selfish behaviour and we'll just have to leave it at that."
He's right, but it should hardly come as a surprise.
Radulov, 25, always has been doing what's best for Radulov, including breaking his contract with the Predators on July 11, 2008 to bolt for the Kontinental Hockey League.
Kostitsyn, 27, had his share of off-hours tales told and written about him in Montreal when he was with the Canadiens.
The two Preds were seen out and about at a Scottsdale hot spot early Sunday morning. Game 2 was Sunday at 5 p.m. local time and there were no morning skates. The spot they were at was about an hour from the team hotel. Apparently they claimed they were not drinking, but the optics were bad.
Neither of them played well in Game 2, although after watching the game you might have thought all the Predators were out together.
Predators coach Barry Trotz discussed the situation with the club's leadership group.
"We said whatever you decide, we will stand by you," defenceman Ryan Suter said. "We're in the playoffs and we don't need distractions."
But they have a big one now.
"I've been a general manager for 30 years and always try to treat each individual player with care, but never, ever put the individual player ahead of the team," Poile said. "In this situation, both these players violated a team rule. This has been no more than a big distraction to our hockey team. It's very disappointing. Obviously, any time something like this would happen it would be disappointing, In the playoffs it's even more so.
"(It's) a pretty easy decision. Our creed has always been to try to do the right thing. I try to do that in my personal life, so I should try to do it in my business life. We've put the team ahead of a couple of individual players and we'll see where we go from here."
Poile brought the pair and their offensive potential into the Predators mix late in the season to bolster the team for a playoff run. There was a gamble associated with the move, given the players' suspect character, but there are still some cards to be dealt.
When asked if was disappointed in his teammates, Predators forward Mike Fisher was clear.
"Absolutely. Everyone is expected to commit at this time of year and be all in. That has been our real slogan. To not have that is definitely disappointing," he said.
"With that being said, we're all going to step up and rally together and get back to the way we know we can play. It's not just a couple of guys. It's going to be everyone. We've all got to be better."
Maybe Fisher's right and this can be a rallying point for the Predators, who haven't looked themselves in losing the first two games to a superior Coyotes squad.
Two of Matt Halischuk, Craig Smith and Jordin Tootoo will get a chance to replace Radulov and Kostistyn.
"(Radulov and Kostitsyn) are great offensively, but there have been guys champing at the bit and practising hard," captain Shea Weber said. "They're ready to go and there are other guys who can contribute here."
There's a slogan over the door of the Predators dressing room at their practice rink. It really resonated Tuesday.
"Unselfishness. It is essential to teammates and team success. We supersedes me."
Guess Radulov and Kostitsyn don't look up when they're walking out of the room.