by PuckStopsHere on 05/06/12 at 02:36 PM ET
After losing games one and two in their series against Phoenix, the Nashville Predators shocked the hockey world by suspending two of their best offensive players Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn for breaking team rules by staying out late before game two. Nashville was in a situation where there was no win. It is not going to help the team if some of their top players are out of the lineup for a big playoff game and it doesn’t help the team if their players are not doing what is best for the team.
It isn’t that uncommon historically for players to break curfews and team rules before big games. It may not be any good for a team but there is no good solution for a team.
Even though he missed two games Radulov is the top scorer in the playoffs in Nashville. Kostitsyn is fourth. Nashville needs their offence to have their best playoff chance.
In the two games the Predators played without these players the team scored two goals. They won one of the games but did not show any offensive success.
In all likelihood these players will be back in the lineup for the game five elimination game that Nashville plays tomorrow. What are their choices? They can dress their best possible lineup for this critical game or can play it shorthanded offensively.
The longterm result of this is Radulov and Kostitsyn will likely not be back next year. Their value has taken a hit leaguewide. Since Radulov is playing for a big next contract this is especially bad news for him. I think it means both of these players will be in the KHL next year. It is always a risk to try to acquire a player through free agency (unrestricted or restricted) and nobody is likely to chase a player with their baggage.
Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn are NHL capable players. They have not increased their value with their playoff antics and that has hurt the Nashville Predators. There are cultural differences between Russian players and North American ones which may allow for these players to be singled out more easily. These cultural differences will likely chase these players to Russia next season. While some fans may view this as no big loss, both of these players are good NHL talents and I would like to be able to see all the talented players playing against each other in the same league.
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