As you may have heard by now, Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn won’t be playing in Game 3 of their playoff series against the Phoenix Coyotes. The Nashville Predators have suspended them for breaking team rules.

Preds GM David Poile explained the decision as such:

“The Nashville Predators have a few simple rules centered around doing the right things. We have always operated with a team-first mentality and philosophy. Violating team rules is not fair to our team and their teammates.”

Enough credible people have shared that they did exactly what you think they did:

Ah yes, that old chestnut.

If Twitter is any indication, a lot of people are confused about how pro curfew works, and in some cases, how a team functions.

Curfew isn’t imposed every night of the season, but generally is on nights you’re heading into the second half of back-to-backs. When you’re on the road, you’ll always have one. And, throughout all of playoffs there’s a hard and fast curfew, usually something completely reasonable like 11.

With it being around 11, You can still go out have a nice evening, but after that time not a whole lot of good can happen for people whose job involves being at their physical peak the next day.

The thing is, guys respect the “concept” of curfew. Nobody actually calls your home or knocks on your door, so if you’re out at a movie that runs to 11:15, you’re not sprinting to make it back. You don’t sign in anywhere – it just is. You follow it casually but respect it, because you’re not just messing with your life if you’re ragged the next day and playing below your potential. Guys do hold each accountable when the time is right. If a guy goes out and has a few too many one night in the middle of a back-to-back, his stallmate isn’t gonna go tell the coach or something, but when playoffs arise, I’ve seen a captain bawl out players more than once.

Because you aren’t checked on, that means you could go out and chase the ladies until 2am. You could hide it from your teammates (especially when you’re at home). And, with hockey teams being comprised mostly of healthy young men, that’s going to happen from time to time, and guys are going to get away with it. Hell, I wrote an article on how to get away with it a couple years ago.

So, to get caught, you have to really screw up. The biggest red flag going is showing up late to morning skate – it draws immediate scrutiny. Missing morning skate? You’re boned. You can’t have booze on your breath, you can’t be late for video, you have to be responsible and still do your job. If you do that, it’s never really a problem.

So to get suspended for a playoff game in a series in which they’re down 2-0 and headed home, Radulov and Kostitsyn must have really screwed up. They weren’t 30 minutes late after some fine dining - their offense was far bigger than that, I promise.

But, you have to suspend when stuff like this happens, as counter-intuitive as it sounds.

Logically, it’s a big game. These are top-six forwards on the Preds, and in playoff games that are tight and head to overtime regularly, you want every game-breaker you have available to you (even as poorly as they’ve played). From the outside looking in, you fine them, you deal with their punishment after the crucial games have been played, something.

But that’s just not how hockey teams work. There are too many players on a roster to control with individual sets of rules for individual people at separate times. These are our team rules, this is what we live by. In a way, the rules your team chooses to enforce end up defining your team identity. And, how strictly you abide by them can affect how disciplined your team is. There’s a reason we’ve been saying for years “Geez, Nashville’s good again with that roster? Get Trotz the Jack Adams, ASAP.”

The Preds stick to their guns. In a sport where you rely on the other four skaters to be in position at all times or you’re hooped, there’s no room for error.

Ellen Etchingham has written about how millimeters matter in hockey, and I like my odds of getting the right ones from a guy hungry, desperate to play in playoffs who’s been watching from the press box than the guys who apparently don’t give a shit.

This stuff has torn teams apart before - earlier today Mike Halford of Pro Hockey Talk tweeted a link to a piece of Jimmy Devellano’s book “The Road to Hockeytown” that highlighted an incident in a bar called “Goose Loonies,” where six Red Wings (headlined by Bob Probert) were drinking before Game 5 of the NHL semi-finals. They were out of playoffs before they knew it. It erodes teammates trust, and hurts you on the ice. So nip it in the bud.

The Predators next game is in Nashville tomorrow night, and Radulov and Kostitsyn will watch from the press box. If the Preds don’t win that game, their season is as good as over. But, I think they did the right thing off the ice, and as a result, I think they’ll be just fine on it.

Comments (23)

  1. I suppose this is better than being suspended by the team just to go play in the KHL for a couple of years.

    • Seems this is a trend for the managment to take over what should be the capt’s role…One wide sweeping policy that could possibly HURT the team, so that the management doesnt have to deal with any issues regarding player responsibility/self preparedness. Some players party, fact, and for some, it doesnt hurt their play (Heck, you could find past greats who would explain some were “BETTER” after a good bender when needed). This is the resonsability of the player. The Capt is supposed to keep tabs on the individuals responsibility factor, and come down on him when he fails.

      Micromanagment doesnt work in a team environment. It becomes a dictatorship! Punishment for what you “MIGHT” do….. Although, this also may be a decision by the capt!!!! I’m only speculating with limited information.

      • Being “better” after a bender would be the exception, not the rule. We are talking about Radulov and KostItsyn here, hardly NHL greats. Radulov is the same player that ditched his team in 08 only to come back with 9 games left in the season; clearly this is player isn’t commited to the team and has shown that again. And Kostitsyn was run out of Montreal for getting involved with the Russion mob. Both of these guys are cancers. They have all year to party it up, playoffs is hardly the time to do it. Good on Poile for taking a step that maybe the Captain couldn’t take. This is bigger than the Captain. Those two idiots could possibly have cost the Preds their post season by their actions. They are down 2 games to 0 with them in the line up, they can’t be worse without them.

        • I certainly didnt call those 2 greats. I was referencing speaking to greats about the reality of NHL team dynamics…..

          You speak about radulov as if he gets to just decide “I think I’ll come back now”???? As if these arent the decisions of the managment to which I have questioned….

          A situation that the capt couldnt handle??? The capt is the heart and soul of the team.. Not a C jersey that gives a great pick-me-up before the big game. The team locks the mngmnt out of the room and the capt stands up and drills the guy’s in front of the entire team. Again, this is the team. Not the GM’s place. If the C cant do it, then the player is CUT!

          The “team” dynamic is now gone.. Let the dictators enter the media! After all. There are millions of dollars at stake!

          • You seem to know a lot about how the locker room of an NHL team works. I take it you’ve played in the NHL before then?

            Suspending team mates is NOT the role of the captain. Did you take a moment to think that this suspension was ok’d by the captain or other team members for that matter. You have no idea what is going on in that room so calling it a dictatorship is really stretching.

            The bottom line is that those two guys have shown a lack of dedication and commitment to the team. Their play last game was horrific. They haven’t proven that they deserve to be on the ice with the rest of the team.

          • “”"”"You seem to know a lot about how the locker room of an NHL team works. I take it you’ve played in the NHL before then?

            Suspending team mates is NOT the role of the captain.”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”

            No, never played in the NHL. Have talked to a few that have.

            Did not say the capt would suspend the player. But the capt would be the one to deal with it. If the player was unresponsive, then the capt would go to managment and tell, “get rid of him for us.”

            “”"”"Did you take a moment to think that this suspension was ok’d by the captain or other team members for that matter. “”"”"”"”

            Yes. If you actually read my first post, I say this may be the case, but we dont know that… Since you like to be insulting, Can you read?

            “”"The bottom line is that those two guys have shown a lack of dedication and commitment to the team. Their play last game was horrific. They haven’t proven that they deserve to be on the ice with the rest of the team.”"”"”"”"”

            This is a decision of the capt. Not you, or the GM. (Unless its a dictatorship)

  2. Reports I’m reading are that they were seen out at 4am on a game day. That’s bad. I can only imagine that this came from the room itself. If others noticed (and how could they not have…) they’d be right to be completely pissed off.

    A bit of a morale salvage job required here for the preds.

    The long time fans of this team should be absolutely furious.

    • Maybe Sergei ratted them out for being left out of the Douche Trio. Nice signings Poile, Russian Roulette !!!

  3. Great article. Thanks! I’m a P.O.’d Preds fan, but I’m mad at the players, not the team or the rules. I really respect Poile and Trotz for making the hard but right decision.

    • The hard but right decision would have been to tell Radulov “we’ll talk over the summer” about coming back to the team. What a slap in the face of all the guys who spent all season busting their asses to make the team as good as it is. Bet they couldn’t wait to burn him down. He can’t seem to decide who has the greener grass.

  4. The Kostitsyn brothers are notorious douche bags so no surprise here. Good on the Preds for sticking to the rules but they may want to make more well rounded personnel decisions next time.

  5. A win by BizNasty2Point0′s Scottsdale army.

  6. I wonder if things would have been different if they were up or tied in the series and Radulov weren’t being called out for lack of effort on national TV.

  7. Of course this was the right call by the Preds. You let them get away with it now, they will keep doing it later when it could hurt the team more. The Preds went all year without Radulov, and as good as its been to have him, they cant handle one game without.

  8. Karma says they win for doing the right thing… but Karma doesn’t show up that often.

  9. I have even more respect for this organization after hearing about this.

  10. Do we have a link on the how to break curfew column? [or the right google search terms -- i struck out]

  11. I don’t think if were up, down, or in the regular season. The staff of the Nashville Predators had to take action to protect the integrity of the team and organization. I also think that we are starting to see the aspect and downfall of mid season trades/add on’s to the team. This group is on the brink of greatness! If we can reestablish the cohesiveness of the winning PREDS then perhaps this is a step in the right direction. At this point, I don’t think today’s call up from the Admirals and the suspension of these two are coincidence. With what’s on the line, this was a calculated necessity by the Preds Staff and SR Management.

    • The integrity of the team was compromised the minute they let Radulov come back. I’m surprised they made it past Detroit with that cancerous bum on the squad.

  12. Thank you for these much-needed insights. As always, you’ve got such a talent for decoding/sharing what’s really going on in these often prickly situations.

    I agree with the concerns that mid season trades/kerfufflery might have upset what had already shaped up to be quite a nifty equilibrium chez Predators. Gaustad and Gill seem to have fit in rather nicely, but their acquisition meant bumping worthy guys who had found their groove – and were playing to their potential – off the squad. AK has kinda sorta fit into the roster, but there were always the ever-present questions about his commitment to work ethic. And there simply wasn’t any precedent for Rad’s situation so it was tough for anybody to tell how it would all pan out; it was expected that it would take some time for him to readjust, but some also assumed that because he was an elite player it wouldn’t necessarily take as long for him to get back into the swing of living and playing in America. O-kay.

    What has happened is that Trotz has been forced to sit guys that he previously played the crap out of. And because it took more effort/money to acquire the newbies, is it really coincidental that those guys tend to NOT be healthy scratched? It’s been a weird, uncomfortable – albeit exciting – situation for the entire team and now the stress is really starting to show. In my opinion, the bottom line here is you can’t realistically hold some guys more accountable than others on a team. Even if those other players are your most gifted, star players. How can Trotz sit players like Colin Wilson and Ryan Ellis for making poor decisions on the ice when 46 and 47 disrespect the entire organization off the ice and make rampant errors – or don’t really show up – during a playoff series?

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