Those gold jerseys are beautiful, I care what no-one says.

When the clock ran out on the Predators on Monday night, the clock also may have run out on Ryan Suter and Shea Weber, cornerstones of the franchise, as Nashvillains.

Everything lined up for the Predators this season: Weber and Suter, headed to free agency, convinced management to line them up with a winning roster and prove to them they were committed to the task, or so the story goes.

Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn highlighted the late season pickups for Nashville. They spent a first round pick (a first round pick!) on Paul Gaustad, a defensive centreman that represents a pretty menial spot on a roster for such a short period of time. Also, Hal Gill, who can, um, skate upright.

Point being, everything fell together for Nashville this season. I’ve made my thoughts clear on the Pekka Rinne contract, and while I’m not convinced that he was the problem in the series against the Phoenix Coyotes, I’m also not convinced that any goaltender is worth enough money to throw at. Even historically good goaltenders have rough seasons every three years it seems (see: Tim Thomas, 2009-10). If you were going to gamble on two of the “big three”, one of them ought not to have been Rinne.

But I digress.

Everything lined up, and you can’t teach the group. Don Cherry said as much, that you can’t coach a group this late in the season. When Barry Trotz suspended Radulov and Kostitsyn for some extra-curricular activities in the lead-up to Game 2, it was somewhat understandable. There’s a team code that players need to adhere to, and it can’t be bent or broken. Fine.

But when you suspended the same players for Game 4 after a Game 3 victory, you aren’t playing your best roster. You aren’t giving your team the best chance to win. You can’t catch lightning in a bottle twice, which Trotz thought he could do after the 2-0 win for the Preds in Game 3 on the heels of a strong performance from Rinne. His Preds didn’t out-chance, out-shoot or out-play the Coyotes to an incredible degree in that game, it was just one game out of 8… 92, rather. It was a single game out of 92 that was won in unforeseen, odd circumstances.

I can’t think that the suspension helps the team in any way at all. I also can’t think that it “cost” the team Game 4, but it looks bad when you lose a game and you haven’t sent out your best roster. Is that the message you want to send to Weber and Suter? That you’re more committed to a couple of team rules than putting the best guys on the ice? If you’re sending the right message to Radulov and Kostitsyn, you’re sending the wrong one to Weber and Suter.

I feel like I’ve defend Radulov too much in this space, but it’s not without reason. As brought up on Coach’s Corner in Game 6 of the Capitals/Rangers series in regards to Reggie Leach’s habits during the 1976 playoff run:

“The Flyers still needed one more win to reach the finals, but Leach was already celebrating. After failing to report for the morning skate on the day of Game 5, teammates found him passed out in the basement of his Cherry Hill, New Jersey, home. When a shower and coffee didn’t achieve a complete revival, the right wing had a few more beers.

[Bobby] Clarke talked Shero into letting Leach play and the Rifle scored five goals as Philadelphia put away Boston, 6-3.”

The Flyers lost the finals to the Montreal Canadiens in four games, but Leach was given the Conn Smythe Trophy, the one skate ever awarded it in a losing cause.

Point being, you put out your best guys. You might be sending the wrong message. It doesn’t matter who you’re directing a message at, really, just put the best guys on the ice. It seems like a simple enough concept. Hopefully the Preds will be able to hold onto their two best defencemen.

Comments (8)

  1. Shero let Leach skate because Bobby Clarke, captain of the team, went to bat for him. Did Shea Weber, or anyone else, go to bat for Radulov or Kostitsyn? Get the answer to that question and things get a lot clearer.

    • Exactly, it could have been partly Weber and Suter’s call to sit the Russians for team chemistry sake.

    • Shea Weber went to bat enough for Radulov when Poile asked about acquiring him. He said he wanted him on the team and apparently Rads and the two D were pretty good friends.

  2. Agree with Rob, Nashville may have sent the wrong message by bringing those 2 guys back for game 5. Most of the stuff I read suggested that Trotz only played AK and Rad out of respect for Poile who brought those guys in, even though Trotz didn’t want to. I have a really hard time believing that those two guys would have got benched if Suter and Weber went to bat for them, I expect that the opposite occurred. Tough to say anything conclusively about that whole situation until all the details come out, if they ever do.

  3. Do you honestly think they were suspended two games for missing curfew?? Are you that naive?? There is more to the suspensions then just getting drunk and missing curfew. We just may never find out the truth.

  4. This whole message sending theory is preposterous.

    The only message sent was we don’t want two of our only passable offensive players in the lineup. We’d rather send a message than win the Stanley Cup. Thanks for putting up with all of those garbage seasons fans – now we’d like to kick you all in the balls because we’d rather keep the puritan hockey gods happy than try to give you he cup.

  5. Doesn’t anyone understand that this was a lose lose situation for Trotz, Nashville and all the players?

    1) Regardless of extra curricular, this series was Nashville’s lose. They were down 2 games before this crap happened anyways.

    2) No matter what happened in game 3 and 4 the situation was going to be lose lose for Trotz. The only way it would be win win is if Nashville won both game 3 and 4. If they kicked em out and won game 3, and then lost game 4 everyone would say “these guys are still hungover kick em off”. If they played game 3 they wouldn’t have been inspired and probably would have lost. And if they did what they did everyone blames them for not suiting their “best team” for game 4.

    At the end of the day Nashville lost the series in the first two games ANYWAYS. They out classed the Yotes any day of the week. Rinne didn’t step up and the drama ensued and now we’re going to see a breakdown in Nashville.

    Also your comments about Hal Gill are a little backhanded. While I don’t really like him as a player, you can’t discount his presence in the defensive end, he’s won cups and has been integral parts of playoff runs for multiple teams. I think Nashville overpaid for just about all their acquisitions, but they increased their defensive stance with a player like Gill. (on a team where the average height is probably 5’6 ha)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *