Bulls

Predators suspend Radulov, Andrei Kostitsyn for Game 3

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Predators suspend Radulov, Andrei Kostitsyn for Game 3

NASHVILLE, TENN.The Nashville Predators have suspended forwards Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn for Game 3 on Wednesday night against the Phoenix Coyotes for violating team rules.

The Predators announced the suspensions Tuesday morning, and general manager David Poile and coach Barry Trotz said the decision to punish the forwards for violating unspecified team rules was easy. The general manager is leaving the decision on whether the men return for Game 4 on Friday night up to Trotz.

Poile refused to specify what Radulov and Kostitsyn did, saying any hint would give away what they did. He called their behaviour unfortunate and selfish.

I hope there is some remorse for what they did, Poile said. Time will tell with their behaviour and if they get the opportunity to get back into the lineup.

The timing couldnt be worse for the Predators. They havent trailed 0-2 in a series since 2008 against Detroit. They managed to even that series by taking both games on their own ice before losing in six games. Trotz said 2008 was a long time ago, with these suspensions the simple consequence to rules being broken.

Every team that has success in the playoffs has to go through some adversity, Trotz said. They havent had to go through a whole lot of adversity yet, so this is a good test. When you go through adversity, it really reveals your character so were going to find out what kind of character we do have.

Kostitsyn is tied for the team lead this post-season with two goals, and he has scored in each of the losses in Phoenix. Nashville picked him up at the trade deadline from Montreal, reuniting him with his younger brother, Sergei. Radulov has a team-high six points and set a franchise record with an assist in four straight post-season games in the first series.

Both men spoke with their teammates. Kostitsyn did not talk with reporters after practice in Nashville. Radulov did, and said he will support his teammates Wednesday night. He hinted the rule violation may have been curfew.

I didnt come back that late that they were saying, but like I said before, I dont want to talk about it, Radulov said. They did what they had to. I am disappointed, and I understand what is my mistake.

Radulov is the wayward forward who spent the past four seasons in Russia playing for the Kontinental Hockey League. He returned in March to scratch the final year of his original contract and keep playing hockey after his KHL team was eliminated.

Trotzs options include Matt Halischuk, who has not played since Game 4 in Detroit, rookie Craig Smith or Jordin Tootoo. Smith played in Game 1 at Phoenix, while Tootoo played only in Game 3 at Detroit.

The Predators insist this will not be a distraction. Defenseman Ryan Suter said people make mistakes.

As long as people learn from their mistakes, thats the biggest thing, Suter said. We stand by him. When they do get back in the lineup, theyre going to be a big impact.

Nashville captain Shea Weber said everyone needs to be held to the same standards and that everyone knows the rules. Now the focus is on Wednesday night.

We dug ourselves a hole, and we have to find a good way to get out of it, Weber said.

The Coyotes practised in Arizona before flying to Nashville on Tuesday. Coach Dave Tippett said the lineup Nashville uses because of the suspensions doesnt matter. The Coyotes are trying to pick up from their 5-3 win on Sunday night, which was their most dominant performance this post-season.

We realize that Nashville is going to come out and play probably their best game of the series in Game 3, probably out of desperation, and we have to make sure our game is where it needs to be to give us the best chance to win, Tippett said.

The players also expect the Predators to be motivated regardless of whos in the lineup. Scoring also could be a bit more of a challenge. The Coyotes have scored nine goals in two games against Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne, as many as he allowed in five games in the opening series against Detroit.

Hes a very good goaltender, Phoenix centre Antoine Vermette said. Its something unusual. You dont see that many goals usually against this guy. So yeah, our approach has been good. That being said, were going to have to do it again. Were going to have to create scoring chances.
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With revamped roster, Bulls begin quest for playoffs on road vs. Hornets

With revamped roster, Bulls begin quest for playoffs on road vs. Hornets

CHARLOTTE, N.C. --- On April 28, 2017, the Celtics ended the Bulls’ lone season of what Rajon Rondo brilliantly called “The Three Alphas,” closing out the first-round playoff series in six games.

As the Bulls begin their 54th season in franchise history Wednesday in Charlotte, N.C., only Denzel Valentine and Cristiano Felicio remain from that roster.

When John Paxson first succeeded Jerry Krause in April 2003, he took two years to similarly flip the roster, keeping only Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry.

This makeover was Paxson’s doing, beginning with the June 2017 trade of Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves. His last complete overhaul produced 10 playoff appearances in 11 seasons, albeit with only five series victories in that span.

Wednesday night begins the quest for sustained success.

“We have revamped this roster in a big way and a way in that we can look at this team and we see real talent,” Paxson said back on the team’s media day in late September. “We see a versatile roster. We see depth on this roster. We see some leadership on this roster which we haven’t had.

“And because of that our goals this year are really simple. First and foremost, we want to compete at a high, high level. And when you compete at a high level, you have an ability to be a playoff-caliber team. And we set that as a goal. (Coach) Jim (Boylen) talks about it. He’s not afraid of it. And our guys through their work have shown us that they want to make that commitment. So we feel good about that.”

There’s plenty to feel good about during a preseason. That’s when each team’s regular-season record is unblemished. The tests start for real against the Hornets, followed by Friday’s visit to Memphis.

Four of the Bulls’ first five games are on the road but all are against teams that didn’t qualify for the playoffs last season. Saturday’s home opener is against the defending NBA champion Raptors, who defeated the Pelicans in overtime Tuesday night in their first game since Kawhi Leonard left for the Clippers.

Plenty has to go right for the Bulls to make the jump from 22 victories to the playoffs. Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen need to step towards stardom. Tomas Satoransky and Thad Young need to continue being the low-maintenance complementary pieces they've shown to be during their careers. Otto Porter Jr. and Wendell Carter Jr. need to stay healthy. Coby White and Kris Dunn need to contribute off the bench.

Still, the bottom portion of the Eastern Conference playoff picture is wide open. The Bulls know this. It’s why Boylen indeed gave voice to the goal on that same September media day.

“Our goals for the season are to make the playoffs,” Boylen said then. “And every day to prepare like we’re a playoff team. Every day to work like we’re a playoff-bound team. I’m excited for that. I think that’s the only way to do it. There’s no way that we were going to stand up here and say, ‘Hey, I hope we can win 10 more games or we hope we can be better.’ We want to get to the mountain top.’’

The games count for real starting Wednesday. It’s time to start climbing.

Source: Cubs set to hire David Ross as new manager

Source: Cubs set to hire David Ross as new manager

According to David Kaplan, the Cubs have made their decision on a new manager. And to no surprise, they've landed on David Ross.

Ross was widely speculated as the heir apparent to Joe Maddon and that's exactly how the situation has played out. The team also interviewed current bench coach Mark Loretta, first-base coach Will Venable, Astros bench coach Joe Espada, and former Cubs player and Yankees manager Joe Girardi.

Ross retired after the 2016 season and has spent the last three seasons working in a special assistant role in Theo Epstein's front office while also serving as an MLB analyst/broadcaster for ESPN. He has not coached or managed at any level. 

During his two years as a player with the Cubs, Ross was an integral part of changing the culture inside the clubhouse and is revered as a legendary leader to all the young players that came up and helped end the 108-year championship drought. Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant affectionately dubbed him "Grandpa Rossy" and he rode that popularity on the shoulders of his teammates in a Rudy-esque celebration after Game 7 and then a stint on "Dancing with the Stars." Every time he is shown on the video board at Wrigley Field, it elicits a deafening cheer from Cubs fans.

Even three years since he last donned the uniform, Ross' impact remains and the Cubs have been searching for the type of clubhouse leadership he provided. Earlier this season, Javy Baez brought up Ross unprompted, mentioning advice from his former teammate that he still thinks about on a daily basis.

The question was never really if and more about when Ross was going to get a chance to manage the Cubs in the future. Just last fall, he was brought up as a potential option to replace Brandon Hyde as Maddon's bench coach, but Ross still wanted to spend time with family in retirement and wasn't yet ready to commit to the grind of a long season. 

Still, Epstein mentioned at the GM Meetings last November that he and the front office were pushing Ross to be around the team more in 2019. GM Jed Hoyer followed that up at the Winter Meetings in December talking about how much of an impact Ross has on these players and the level of trust that's already inherent within this group.

Apparently, Ross is now willing and able to put in the 7-to-8 month time commitment to step in as the Cubs' new manager. When it was officially announced Maddon would not be returning, Ross was on ESPN's Baseball Tonight and expressed interest in the job and Epstein confirmed the next day Ross was on the team's list of managerial candidates.

Epstein mentioned he would prefer hiring a manager with big-league experience and the main theme of his end-of-season press conference was all about change, not hanging their hats on 2016 and climbing out of the "winner's trap." But they still opted for Ross as the organization's new field general.

"I always have greater comfort level hiring for roles in which the person has done the role before, especially with manager," Epstein said on the final day of September. "I think there are ways for that to be overcome. There’s a lot of different ways to get experience in this game. Beliefs, skills, personal attributes, those can outweigh a lack of experience, but experience certainly helps.

“David Ross has a lot of great things going for him, I would say. His connection to the players on this team, and especially his connection to the 2016 team, are not necessarily assets that distinguish him. Those are not necessarily things that are gonna be important to us.

“I think Rossy is a really attractive candidate, and he’s gonna be evaluated on the merits, what he can bring to the table as a major league manager given his skills, given his experiences, given his world-view, given what he knows about winning, all those things.”

We now know how that evaluation process has played out.

The question now becomes — how would the Cubs players handle Ross as a manager, moving from friend and teammate to boss? 

We'll find out in the coming months.