Hockey Season Officially Ends for the Predators

Surely SK74 and Patric Hornqvist aren’t going at it? Picture from the 2010 Olympics.

With Slovakia ending the Czech Republic’s run at the championship 3-1 in the semifinals, all of Nashville’s players have been eliminated from the IIHF World Championship. The Predators had a good amount of players who jumped on board after the post season, despite going into Round 2 of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Here’s a final rundown of who played for who:

Team Belarus – Andrei and Sergei Kostitsyn
Team Switzerland – Roman Josi
Team Sweden – Patric Hornqvist
Team USA – Craig Smith
Team Czech – Martin Erat

Andrei, Sergei, Roman, Craig, Martin, and Patric

Team Belarus and the Kostitsyn brothers were first to be knocked out of the tournament, falling to Team Canada 5-1 on Tuesday, May 15th. Sergei Kostitsyn did manage to collect a goal during his short run in the tournament. Also on Tuesday, Craig Smith and Team USA eliminated Roman Josi and Team Switzerland 5-2. On Thursday, Team Finland overthrew Team USA to advance 3-2, knocking out rookie Craig Smith.  Martin Erat, who notched a goal against Team Sweden, eliminated Patric Hornqvist and Tre Kronor 4-3.

As of yesterday’s game between Team Slovakia and Team Czech, Marty “Party” Erat was the only Predator left in the running for the gold. Unfortunately, Erat was sidelined early in the semifinal game, leaving the ice during the 1st Period after a shoulder check by Slovakia’s Libor Hudáček. Here’s the video from the game:

It was announced by Czech GM Slava Lener that Martin Erat does have a concussion, which could potentially affect the Predators in the upcoming season. Although the 2012-13 season is a little over five months away, concussions are a bit of mystery when it comes to treating them properly. That, and Martin Erat’s history of concussions is virtually unknown, so the way his body handles the healing process of a concussion will be on a day-to-day basis.

Martin Erat, though his a bit more serious, was not the only player injured during the World Championship. Sergei Kostitsyn dislocated his shoulder during the match between Team Canada after being hit by Kris Russell, a currently St. Louis Blues defenseman. As stated, although not as serious as Erat’s concussion, Kostitsyn will have to sit back a while to let it properly heal.

UPDATE ON ERAT CONDITION:
Martin Erat’s agent, Mike Deutsch has just announced that, despite what Czech GM Slava Lener stated earlier, Erat did not suffer a concussion and is simply suffering from a ‘stiff neck’. Good news for both Martin Erat and the Nashville Predators, but we will keep you updated in case the story changes once again. 

Hockey has officially ended for Smashville, but hockey altogether is still chugging along, wether our favorite players are on the ice or not. Now that all is done, it’s now time for the part of the off-season everyone dreads: Who stays and who goes…

Martin Erat being helped off the ice.

Sergei Kostitsyn seeks Long-Term Contract with Nashville

Sergei taking a break during practice.

Sergei Kostitsyn, or SK74 as he is affectionately called, is what is known as a “young gun, rebel” type… or, at least, he was. Sergei has worn the Predators jersey for two seasons now and, although they’ve heard the many of rumors, Nashville has never seen the rebel, immature side of the 25-year-old Forward from Belarus.

A 7th Round Pick in the 2005 Draft at the tender age of 18, Sergei was a bit of a diamond in the rough. The potential was clearly there (he wouldn’t have even been considered for the NHL if it hadn’t), just a little masked by insecurity and a lack of confidence in himself. SK74 was drafted by the  Montréal Canadiens, the same team that found potential in older brother, Andrei Kostitsyn.

As most former Habs players have admitted, finding the perfect fit in Montréal is a bit challenging, and with his lack of confidence and insecurity, Sergei found himself fighting to stay above water. In frustration, Kostitsyn did whatever he thought would get himself more attention, and potentially more ice time. However, acting out and bad behavioral issues wasn’t the direction the young Forward wanted to walk down, especially alone.

Missing the bus to a preseason game in 2009, being suspended for not reporting to Montréal’s AHL farm team, the Hamilton Bulldogs; Sergei and fellow teammate, goaltender Carey Price even got into an argument about Sergei’s lack of effort and commitment to the team. Montréal and Sergei Kostitsyn were clashing, and both the NHL and the KHL were watching.

Though his behavioral issues out-shined his potential as a great player at times, one team saw past the frustration and immaturity that comes with being a young, ice-deprived hockey player. The Nashville Predators traded Dustin Boyd and Dan Ellis in the off-season of 2010, giving the Belorussian a chance at a fresh start.

Both Coach Barry Trotz and General Manager David Poile worked with Sergei, highlighting both his strong and weak spots, instead of letting him fall the the wayside like he had with the Habs. Two seasons later, Sergei Kostitsyn found himself on the top line along with Mike Fisher and Martin Erat, and notched his first career Hat Trick on January 1st.

However, Sergei still had his off moments in both the 2011-12 season and post season. Lack of confidence still plagues the young Belorussian, causing him to miss key passes, shots, and goals. Although he performed well during the Detroit series in the playoffs, SK74 struggled in the Phoenix series, being replaced on the top line by Colin Wilson.

After two season, Sergei Kostitsyn has expressed his desires to be signed to a long-term contract by Nashville, the one team who he was nestled with soundly. No word if SK74’s agent has met with the club yet, but the deadline to tender qualifying offers to restricted free agents is June 29th, giving both sides a little over a month to come to a decision.

Recently, both Sergei and older brother Andrei jumped on board with Team Belarus for the IIHF World Championship. Although Belarus was recently knocked out by Team Canada, Sergei was able to score a goal in his short time with his country’s team. However, Sergei collided with Team Canada’s Kris Russell yesterday, separating his shoulder. Team Belarus Head Coach, Kari Heikkilä stated that Sergei will be all right, but will need to rest for one to two weeks.

Looking back at his issues with Montréal, it’s clear why Sergei wishes to stay with the Nashville Predators. Not only has Nashville worked one-on-one with SK74, tweaking and fine-tuning his value, the club has become both a home and family to Sergei. Nashville has just begun polishing this diamond in the rough, and Sergei Kostitsyn wants to shine brighter.


Here’s a highlight video of today’s (15 May 2012) IIHF tournament games. You can see Sergei’s goal against Canada at the beginning of the video.