Irony hits playoffs

Nashville's decision to bench Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn stirs debate.

My high school-aged son, Max, and I were having an engaging discussion on irony the other night. Turns out he’s very intrigued by the subject in English class.

I told him about my second cousin who won the lottery and died the next day. Then I brought up the time I met the woman of my dreams and then met her dreamboat hubby. Just two examples of irony to help him understand.

The current irony in the NHL playoffs surrounds those silly curfew-breakers, Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn, of the Nashville Predators.

With the Canucks out of the playoffs, the Hot Stove League and water cooler talk in my world revolves around Radulov and Kostitsyn.

They aren’t the first NHLers to close down a pub, but they may be the first modern-day players to do so during a playoff run.

Of course, staying out until 4 a.m. in a Phoenix bar at a hotel, where most of the media covering the series, were calling home, wasn’t a wise choice. Guess they don’t watch NBC or TSN.

The irony here is that while Radulov, a Russian, and Kostitsyn, from Belarus, were out having a few drinks, right winger Jordin Tootoo was at home sleeping. Tootoo, who has been sober for a year, drew into the Nashville lineup in Game 3 and added a strong physical presence.

Vernon summer resident Barry Trotz is getting more praise than heat, in social media circles, for scratching Radulov and Kostitsyn in Games 3 and 4. Left winger Matt Halischuk also made his series debut in the third game.

The Predators, who also brought in country superstar Charlie Daniels as a Game 3 performer to get the crowd going bonkers, will be asked by many fans to send Radulov back to the KHL and perhaps deal Kostitsyn to the Carolina Hurricanes.

The curfew violation makes a mockery of the game, which most people assume is played by dedicated and committed millionaires, considering the prices most teams charge for tickets.

The pub crawl has also sparked additional debate on Russians in the NHL. Do they really care about winning the Stanley Cup?

“There is a reason NHL teams are scared of drafting and depending on Russians, and what happened last Saturday night in Phoenix is Exhibit A,” Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman wrote  on April 25.

For the record, the number of Russian skaters in the postseason hit a high of 30 in 2000 but has averaged just 13 a season since the 2004 lockout.

One fan named phreddy8751 wrote on NHL.com before Game 4 that Radulov should be dealt to the Capitals since he has similar skills and traits as Alex Ovechkin.

Rebutted Zaal Parsi, on NHL.com: “Radulov and Ovi don’t have similiar personalities. What… are u smoking? Ovi is a true captain, leads by example, does not break team rules and cheers and respects his teammates. Radulov is none of the mentioned. And u cant even compare their skills. Ovi is like 4x better than Radulov.”

Added AyeTee46: “Doesn’t really matter who wins this series, they’ll get bounced in the conference finals by the beast that is Jonathan Quick!”

And from MRoglethorpe2: “Gutsy move. Nashville isn’t going to win with offence. They got here with defence. Tootoo adds that edge they were lacking. Go Preds.”

Benjamin2 chipped in with: “Thank you Trotzy. Great decision!”

Nominations sought

Nominations are now being sought for the 2011-12 North Okanagan athletes representing the best in sports.

Categories include: Athlete and                                 Team of the Year, and Leadership in Sports.

Viper captain David Robinson won the athlete award last year, joining a dynamic list which includes the likes of Sonja Gaudet, Chris Baryla, Jackie Little, Camille Martens, Kim Exner and Brad Larsen.

Residents may choose candidates for these three categories by filling out a nomination form on the web at www.northokanaganathlete.com. The deadline for nomination is May 31. Nomination papers can be dropped off at any Tim Hortons, sponsor of the annual awards since 2007.

Local media from The Morning Star, SUN-FM and KISS-FM do the judging.

The North Okanagan Athlete of the Year was started by the Funtastic Sports Society in 1993-94. NHLer Brent Gilchrist was honoured that first year. A Team of the Year was added two years later and went to the Vernon Vipers.

The inaugural Leadership winner last year was John Topping, the founder of Funtastic.

Vipers seek coach

The Vipers, who missed the BCHL playoffs for the first time in more than a decade, will have a new assistant coach next season.

Head coach/GM Jason Williamson has released Chris Shaw, who worked alongside Williamson last season, his first in Vernon.

Shaw previously was a head coach of the KIJHL Nelson Leafs.

Williamson will make the official announcement this week after a vacation in Disneyland. He also has some major recruiting news.