Predators suspend Radulov, Kostitsyn for Game 3
By TERESA M. WALKER
(AP) -- The Nashville Predators, already struggling at 2-0 down to the Phoenix Coyotes in their NHL Western Conference semifinal, suspended forwards Alexander Radulov of Russia and Andrei Kostitsyn of Belarus for Game 3 on Wednesday.
General manager David Poile and coach Barry Trotz said the decision to punish the forwards for violating unspecified team rules was easy. The general manager is leaving the decision on whether the men return for Game 4 on Friday up to Trotz.
Poile refused to specify what Radulov and Kostitsyn did, saying any hint would give away what they did. He called their behavior unfortunate and selfish.
"I hope there is some remorse for what they did," Poile said. "Time will tell with their behavior and if they get the opportunity to get back into the lineup."
The timing couldn't be worse for the Predators. They haven't trailed 2-0 in a series since 2008 against Detroit. They managed to even that series by taking both games on their own ice before losing in six games. Trotz said 2008 was a long time ago, with these suspensions the simple consequence to rules being broken.
"Every team that has success in the playoffs has to go through some adversity," Trotz said. "They haven't had to go through a whole lot of adversity yet, so this is a good test. When you go through adversity, it really reveals your character so we're going to find out what kind of character we do have."
Kostitsyn is tied for the team lead this postseason with two goals, and he has scored in each of the losses in Phoenix. Nashville picked him up at the trade deadline from Montreal, reuniting him with his younger brother, Sergei. Radulov has a team-high seven playoff games and set a franchise record with an assist in four straight postseason games in the first series.
Both men spoke with their teammates. Kostitsyn did not talk with reporters after practice in Nashville on Tuesday. Radulov did, and said he will support his teammates on Wednesday. He hinted the rule violation may have been curfew.
"I didn't come back that late that they were saying, but like I said before, I don't want to talk about it," Radulov said. "They did what they had to. I am disappointed, and I understand what is my mistake."
Radulov is the wayward forward who spent the past four seasons in Russia playing for the Kontinental Hockey League. He returned in March to scratch the final year of his original contract and keep playing ice hockey after his KHL team was eliminated.
Updated May 2, 2012