|Weber was one who pushed for Radulov to return this season. (Getty Images)|
To look back at the suspensions of Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn as the turning point in the Predators' second-round series loss to the Phoenix Coyotes would be disingenuous. By the time the suspensions came down the Predators were already in a 2-0 hole in the series. They then lost Game 5 when both the suspended players were back.
So I'm not going to sit here and say with the conviction of Gary Bettman talking about hockey staying in Arizona that those two's misbehavior is why the Predators lost. But what might be more appropriate to ask is how much of lasting effect that broken curfew will leave.
When Radulov was brought back to the NHL this season from Russia, it was with an uncertain future. But considering that he is a restricted free agent, it was thought that if they could work out the KHL hurdles, the Predators might be keeping Radulov around. Now? Well it seems like he's damaged goods.
If nothing else, his place in the locker room seems damaged, especially if captain Shea Weber is sticking around for the long haul.
Speaking on the Bob Marjanovich Show on Vancouver's Team 1040 in Weber's home province of B.C., Weber opened up a bit about the Radulov/Kostitsyn situation and how it affected the Predators. Hint: It certainly didn't help matters. (Via Jim Diamond, The Examiner)
"Obviously it was a bit of a distraction," he said. "It's unfortunate what happened, especially at a time like that when you needed things to start going our way. I think for the most part we did a good job of rebounding after that. Guys kind of came together. The guys that were playing came in and did a great job.
"It's unfortunate that a couple of guys that had been scoring for us and doing some good things in the playoffs did that and ultimately caused a bit of a distraction."
I do find it refreshing to hear a player admit that it was a distraction. There are reasons why people sometimes feel these guys are robots and one of them, at least in my opinion, is that they claim to never be bothered by what's going on around them, that they have laser-like focus on the task at hand.
Looking more at the macro level, this incident, one that's hard not to view as selfish, especially when it came during the playoffs. That, unsurprisingly, seems to be leading to resentment, particularly since Weber and some of the other players lobbied the front office to get Radulov back to North America.
"I don't really know what to say about it because I was one of the guys that stood up for him and wanted him back," he said. "There were a bunch of us that played with him that felt the same way.
"You feel a little bit betrayed, but I am sure he feels bad about it now and he looks back on it and wishes it didn't happen. Those are the things you can't take back and we've got to move forward."
Betrayal? Man, it must be the offseason for Nashville. The only thing that stops this from blowing out to the full-on soap opera is the fact that Radulov is almost certainly going back to the KHL next season. Otherwise that could make for an awkward situation. These guys already know they messed up and this probably isn't much of a surprise to Radulov and Kostitsyn, but it just seems different when it's publicly aired.
"I think the management was too tough on Alexander and Andrei," the 25-year-old Preds right winger told the Belarus news outlet Pressball in a story translated by Puck Daddy's Dmitry Chesnokov.
"The punishment for the incident could have been a monetary fine, (they) went too far with the disqualification in the midst of an important stage of the playoffs. We missed the guys in Games 3 and 4 of the series."
Who'd a thunk that one late night in Scottsdale, Ariz., would lead to all of this fallout? It's almost like the Hangover 3 or something.