Radulov, Andrei Kostitsyn suspended by Preds
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Nashville Predators on Tuesday suspended forwards Alex Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn — two of the team's top scorers during the playoffs — for Game 3 of their series against the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday at Bridgestone Arena for an unspecified violation of team rules.
The Predators trail the Coyotes 2-0 in the Western Conference semifinals series.
"The Nashville Predators have a few simple rules centered around doing the right things," general manager David Poile said in a statement. "We have always operated with a team-first mentality and philosophy. Violating team rules is not fair to our team and their teammates."
Predators coach Barry Trotz reportedly met with Radulov at the team hotel on Sunday after the Predators' 5-3 loss to the Coyotes in Game 2. Trotz would not discuss with the media Monday what was said at the meeting.
Radulov, who met with the media Tuesday after the suspension was handed down, made it sound as if he was late for his curfew and that the violation was reported by someone outside the team. Asked whether he knew he broke a team rule he responded:
"Yeah, I mean, I didn’t come back that late," he said. "...I don't want to talk about it. They did what they have to do. I'm good with that. Not good — don't get me wrong. I'm disappointed, and I understand what was my mistake. I really hope that everything's going to work out for the team. If I get a chance to play again in the future I'll help the team to win. That's about it."
Radulov played nine games and totaled seven points during the regular season after returning from a four-year stint in the KHL. He scored a series-best five points in the opening round, as Nashville eliminated Detroit in five games. Radulov's six points lead the team.
Andrei Kostitsyn, whose brother Sergei also plays for the Predators, was acquired from Montreal at the trade deadline for a second-round pick. He scored in Sunday's game, his third of the playoffs, which is tied for the team lead. He did not meet with the media Tuesday.
In their place, coach Barry Trotz said two players from among veteran Jordin Tootoo, Matt Halischuk and rookie Craig Smith would be in the lineup.
Poile would not elaborate on the reasons for the suspensions.
"I’ve been a general manager for 30 years and I always try to treat each individual player with care, but I never put the individual player ahead of the team," Poile said. "In this situation, both these players violated a team rule. They have both been made aware of it; I met with both them this morning. They know that they are not playing in the game. [The situation] has been no more than a big distraction to our hockey team. I wanted to make the announcement today just to get the distraction out of the way so our players could get better prepared for Game 3 (Wednesday) night.
"It is very disappointing – 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. It was a pretty easy decision.
"Our creed has always been to do the right thing. I try to do that in my personal life, so I certainly should do it in my business life. 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."
Radulov said he had a chance to talk with his team.
"But, like I said," he said, "I don’t want to get into it and try to prove anything. It was something that I didn't do right. Like I said before, something wasn't right. They brought it up. Not our team. The people... I don't want to talk about those people who did that. Let it be on either side."
He said he would support the team while he was out of the lineup but wouldn't comment on his meeting with Poile.
"Well, it's between me and David Poile," he said. "I'm going to be all there for the whole team and all the guys and support the team. Whatever I can do from myself and all the guys go out there and win in game No. 3.... I don't want to get into it because I don't think it's good and stuff. Hopefully, everything's going to go well for our team. We'll battle through it."