Whatever the future has in store for Alex Radulov, public relations probably isn’t it.
After learning he and Andrei Kostitsyn would return to the Nashville Predators lineup after a two-game exile, the Russian forward told reporters he’d be playing Game 5 with a purpose.
What kind of purpose, you ask?
“I have something to prove,” Radulov told The Tennessean. “Not to you guys or to somebody, first of all it’s to myself and that’s about it.”
Two ways to look at this.
One, Radulov’s determined, focused and wants to make a difference tonight. As The Tennessean’s Josh Coooper writes, “There are times when you can tell a player is ready for a game or a moment. [Radulov] appeared to have that type of swagger.”
Two, this is just the latest example of the “me-first” mentality Radulov’s shown throughout the series (and his entire Nashville career, some would argue.)
After getting busted for breaking curfew and costing his team at a critical point in the season, Radulov wasn’t exactly the most remorseful guy on earth.
“Yeah. I didn’t come back that late – the same. But like I said before, I don’t want to talk about it. They did what they have to do. I’m good with that. I’m disappointed and understand what is my mistake. I really hope that everything is going to work out for our team better and if I get a chance to play again, maybe in the future, I’ll do what it will take to help the team to win and basically that is it.”
That quote (and lack of proper public apology from him and Kostitsyn) led CBC’s Elliotte Friedman to write the following:
Here is what both should have apologized for:
Blowing curfew the night before a PLAYOFF game, especially after their team was already behind in the series;
Playing horribly after it occurred;
Embarrassing a GM who did everything you wanted and took a lot of heat for it (Radulov), traded for you (Kostitsyn) and a coach who sat out valued players to make room;
Finally, letting down teammates who’ve never had a better shot at winning the Stanley Cup.
The bright side is that, on Saturday, Preds head coach Barry Trotz shrewdly told Radulov and Kostitsyn of their return to the lineup. That allowed the pair a couple of days to mentally prepare for action.
“I just told them, ‘You’re back in. You can make a difference. It’s not going to be easy and people aren’t going to let you off the hook. You’re going to be judged, you’re going to be weighed, all those things,'” said Trotz. “I needed to tell them early so they could get in the right frame of mind.”
Can’t wait to see if it works.