The Nashville Predators took the bold- and correct- step of suspending Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn for game 3 of the Predators semi final series with Phoenix. The reasons have not been disclosed except for the team to say that there was a substantive violation of team rules by the two players that warranted a one game suspension.
Kudos to GM David Poile and Head Coach Barry Trotz for addressing the situation head on and acting correctly. The actions of Radulov and Kostitsyn were selfish and foolish, and warranted action by the GM and Coaches. The GM and Coaches acted appropriately and in a timely manner, which they should have done.
While much of the focus is on the shenanigans of Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn, for the Predators the focus now falls on three players in particular: Captain Shea Weber and the alternate captains, Ryan Suter and Mike Fisher.
This leadership group has done a good job of guiding a young squad through the rigors of the regular season grind and getting them through the first round of the playoffs. And with a cohesive group, a character group of guys that have occupied roster slots this season, this has not been a difficult task.
Now that two players who have recently been added to the mix of roster regulars have chosen to act selfishly and disregard the team over their own personal good times, the onus of bringing this team back together inside of the locker room rests with this leadership group, and this will be a test, perhaps the biggest test for Weber, Suter, and Fisher.
Not only are the Predators trailing 2-0 and facing the pressure of a must win game, but now they team has to get re-focused after the disruption that Radulov and Kostitsyn have caused.
There is no doubt that this is an enormous distraction to the team. There is a risk of disrupting the cohesion and equilibrium of a team that is being sorely tested in this round of the playoffs. What the leaders on this team do behind the closed doors of the locker room will be critical to maintaining that cohesion and equilibrium.
This team is going to look at the response that the leadership this group provides, and they will respond in kind. The response of the captains has to be unequivocal- no player is better than the team- and focused on the task of winning game 3.
Real leadership rises to the meet the challenges of the unexpected and motivates to excel in difficult times. It shines in dark times. This is the first real test of Weber's- and Suter and Fisher's- leadership. How they respond to this challenge will go a long way to determining how the team will respond to this adversity that has been thrust on them.
For Weber, Suter, and Fisher, this is your time to shine. The challenge awaits.
Your move, gentlemen.