Sullivan and Radulov
During the course of the season ending interviews with Predator’s coach Barry Trotz and Jason Arnott, two of the more interesting topics covered were those of Steve Sullivan and Alexander Radulov.
It was no coincidence that Steve Sullivan’s return to the ice in January after a two year layoff that involved two separate back surgeries, was about the same time that the Predators turned their season around and made their run for the playoffs.
Playing in exactly half of the teams games (41), Sullivan scored 11 goals and added 21 assists. The majority of his points were down the stretch where he played well above his career, point a game pace.
Sullivan is now an unrestricted free agent. Barry Trotz responded to the possibility of resigning him, “That is something we’ll talk about. To me, Sully had a big impact. If he does not win the Masterton (Trophy), I don’t know who should, because of his injury for two years and then coming back and having a big impact.”
Going further Trotz explained, “When Legwand, Erat and Arnie were all out, Sully was the guy that was really our pure offensive catalyst for a while. To me that’s a great story. I look at some of the Masterton candidates and I don’t think there’s anyone that had the impact that Sully had and been in a stranger situation. What a story! I’d be surprised and disappointed if he doesn’t receive it.”
Captain Jason Arnott agreed with the coach, “Sully was a huge part of our team, our line, and our offense. We’d been waiting a long time for him to come back and he really made an impact when he came back so hopefully he and David (Poile) can get together and work something out. It’s probably the highest priority for our team.”
When Arnott was questioned further about his discussions with Sullivan he said, “I think he (Sully) would love to come back.”
Then Arnott laughingly said, “I’ve been asking him every day just trying to feel him out”. He continued, “I’m going to try to make my point to David that we would love to have him back. I think his family loves being here, but that’s the way unrestricted free agency is. There’s probably going to be a few other teams after him. Hopefully, his heart stays with us but if he doesn’t, that’s the business of the game."
On the subject of Alexander Radulov, who broke his contract and left the team last summer to play in Russia, Trotz and Arnott had completely different opinions.
When Trotz was asked directly if he would like to have Radulov back he answered, “Yea, obviously Rads is a real dynamic guy. Up front we were missing a little pop, then Sully came back. I think of all our assets in the organization and Rads is a dynamic player. I don’t know why we wouldn’t want a player like that. We really haven’t discussed it. It’s in Rad’s hands. There’s a lot of factors with that.”
Jason Arnott had a totally different opinion on Radulov’s return. When asked he laughed and said, “I don’t know”. Shaking his head side to side, he continued, “I’m sure we’d have to have a lot of talks about it. I don’t know if he’d be accepted in the dressing room after what he did, but that would have to be something we’d have to discuss at a later point if he was thinking about coming back.”
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass and the Columbia Daily Herald
Part Four will look at the future of the Predators team.