Bears

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.
Copyright2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Charles Leno, Jr. on Harry Hiestand: 'He's getting us better'

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USA Today

Charles Leno, Jr. on Harry Hiestand: 'He's getting us better'

Chicago Bears left tackle Charle Leno, Jr. has outplayed expectations after joining the Bears as a seventh-round pick in 2014. General manager Ryan Pace rewarded Leno for his play with a four-year, $38 million extension last offseason, committing to the former Boise State product as the Bears blindside protector for the immediate future.

Leno joined his teammates at the team's annual Bears Care Gala on Saturday and said new offensive line coach Harry Hiestand is going to make the group better.

"We love Harry, let's just get that out of the way," Leno told 670 the Score's Mark Grote. "Harry is a great coach. I saw what he did for guys that he coached in college and the guys that were before us here in Chicago. He's getting us better."

Hiestand's efforts at Notre Dame produced four first-round picks: Zack Martin, Ronnie Stanley, Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey. He brings a no-nonsense coaching style back to Chicago, where he last served under Lovie Smith from 2005-2009. 

STANKEVITZ: In Harry Hiestand, Matt Nagy hits a home run on his first swing at Bears' coaching staff

Leno enjoyed the best season of his career in 2017. His 80.4 grade from Pro Football Focus was the best of all Bears linemen and his highest overall mark over the last four years. He finished 15th among all tackles graded by PFF last season.

Regardless, Leno still has to impress his new coach just like every other offensive lineman on the roster. The Bears haven't added any competition for Leno, but his fate as the team's long-term answer at left tackle could be decided by Hiestand.

Matt Nagy is winning over his players by being himself

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USA Today Sports Images

Matt Nagy is winning over his players by being himself

Despite losing 34 of his 48 games as the Bears’ head coach, John Fox’s players generally liked him and were disappointed to see him fired on New Year’s Day. That’s not to say they were blindsided by it — losing leads to people losing their jobs, even if the culture at Halas Hall had changed for the better following the disastrous end of the Marc Trestman-Phil Emery era. 

It was with that backdrop that Matt Nagy was offered and accepted the position of Bears head coach a week after Fox’s firing. Four and a half months later, Nagy has seemingly made a strong first impression on his new team, with one reason standing out among many: He’s genuine in who he is and what he does.

“I would say Nagy can be stern, and he can be playful also,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “I think when you’re a first-year coach, you want to win (over) your guys, and you want to be firm, and he’s doing that. You can’t really tell he’s a rookie coach or whatever. I feel like he was born for this, and he’s doing a great job.”

Granted, no player is going to publicly blast their new boss — especially not before he’s even coached a game yet. But veteran players also aren’t oblivious to who can and cannot work out as a head coach, and there haven’t been any “damning with faint praise” types of comments that were more common five years ago at the beginning of the Trestman era.

Will this win Nagy any games come September? No. But consider this sort of like team chemistry: It won't win a team anything, but if a team doesn't have it, it can be costly. 

“He’s a cool coach, man,” linebacker Danny Trevathan — who played for Fox in both Denver and Chicago — said. “He’s always giving us little details and smiling but we know he’s a hard worker just like we are. He’s up there working just like we are. He’s always putting us in the right position and he takes care of us. On the back end, where I come from, you take care of coaches like that. You go out and make plays for those coaches.”

From an observational standpoint, Nagy comes across as genuinely excited not just to be a head coach, but the head coach of the Bears. Players respect that approach — he's not coming in acting like a hired gun, and he's shown through these OTAs and practices that he cares about them, even if they haven't spent much time together yet. And he's also not strutting into Halas Hall every day with an over-inflated ego based on his promotion. That resonates, too. 

“I like the way he came in,” Trevathan said. “He came in humble but he was hungry. He came anxious, moving around in the meetings. I like that. That gets me fired up. I feel like we’ve got a good leader up here in the head coach.”