|This was likely the face of Preds fans when the Radulov/Kostitsyn news broke. (Getty Images)|
The Nashville Predators were already shell-shocked after falling down 2-0 in the series to the Phoenix Coyotes before heading home. Now, they are just plain shocked with the news that dropped on Tuesday.
For Game 3 on Wednesday, the Predators won't have either Alexander Radulov or Andrei Kostitsyn after they violated team rules. Whoa.
"The Nashville Predators have a few simple rules centered around doing the right things," GM David Poile said. "We have always operated with a team-first mentality and philosophy. Violating team rules is not fair to our team and their teammates."
Now that's something you usually see reserved for college athletes, not professional hockey players, especially in the postseason.
Obviously Poile didn't say what they did, but it must have been bad if the team is going to keep two of his better offensive players off the ice in a critical game for the Predators. It's up to coach Barry Trotz whether or not the two will be able to return in Game 4.
But you know something like this isn't going to stay quiet for long. Cam Cole of the Vancouver Sun had this to report shortly after the suspension.
Not. Looking. Good.
Radulov and Kostitsyn spotted in bar in Scottsdale past midnight Sat., before 5 pm Game 2 loss. Team was staying in Glendale, 45 mins away.— Cam Cole (@rcamcole) May 1, 2012
After all the trouble the Predators went through to get Radulov on the roster for the final push this season, this isn't likely what they had in mind. Same goes for their trade-deadline acquisition of Kostitsyn, whose brother Sergei also plays for the Predators.
It's been a rough 48 hours for Radulov especially. Before he was suspended he was being hammered good by NBC analyst Keith Jones for his efforts through the first two games, particularly on the backcheck. He hasn't been able to find the same type of success he was enjoying in Russia when he was earning MVP awards. Now this happens.
There are obviously a few ways this could play out for the Predators. It could be a galvanizing moment for the team, one that forces the team to bring out their best game for Game 3. I hate to go this route because the implication is that the Predators weren't going to try and play their best game before this happened, but sometimes these things do seem to matter in a tangible way. Or the Preds could feel their losses and struggle with the Coyotes again.
I'd also like to say kudos to the Preds for sticking to their guns and making this bold move. It sends a message that the team is the most important thing here, something that has been a building block in Nashville. I'm not trying to say that Radulov and Kostitsyn are or aren't selfish, I don't know, but either way the message is that selfishness won't be tolerated. They are going the extra mile to prove that point now.