The Predators, who advanced to the second round of the playoffs after handling the Detroit Red Wings in five games, see themselves down two-to-nothing in their series against the Phoenix Coyotes. The only upside to their series is that the next two games are in Nashville where they have home ice advantage. That upside however is looking less and less like an upside.
Much like shooting yourself in the foot, you only have yourself to blame. Both Radulov and Kostitsyn have broken team rules which is being punished by a one game suspension.
“I’ve been a general manager for 30 years and I always try to treat each individual players with respect and never put individual player ahead of the team,” Nasville General Manager David Poile said. “They violated a team rule. They were aware of them… They know they’re not playing in the game. This has been a big distraction to our hockey team to make this announcement today so our players will be prepared for Game 3 (Wednesday) night.”
“It’s very disappointing. Any time something like happens it’s disappointing. In the playoffs to hold out arguably two of your better players… It’s a pretty easy decision. I always try to do the right thing in my personal life, in my business life. I put the team ahead of individual players.”
It has not surfaced yet what the two players have done exactly, or what team rule they broke to be suspended. Some rumors speculate the two spent the night out on the town instead of properly resting for game 2 that saw the team suffer a 5 – 3 loss.
Both players joined the team later in the season, Kostistyn acquired in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens at the trade deadline while Radulov returned from the KHL near the end of the regular season. Radulov’s return marks the final year in his contract before he becomes a restricted free agent. Radulov currently leads the team in post-season points while Kostitsyn is 9th in the league for 3 post-season goals. Both players have had a positive impact on the ice, their loss in game three will be felt.
Despite possibly jeopardizing their chances of winning, respect has to be given to the Nashville Predators for for upholding the rules regardless of star status. In a time where athletes are given special treatment, hockey still is one the only sports where respect and honor for the crest on the jersey is more important than the name on the back.