NHL to fight Radulov's Russian deal
To say that I’m upset about this whole issue is putting it mildly. I now very much dislike anything that comes out of Russia: Olympic judges, hockey players, mail order brides, vodka...well, the jury’s still out on that last one.
When the story broke earlier this year about the new Russian super league successor, Continental Hockey League (known as the KHL from here on out), the NHL was quick to squash the rumors about how this league would become a force to reckon with and how it would be superior to any other league. For the most part, I dismissed this news and subsequent articles that followed because I agreed with the NHL’s stance that this league was really nothing to worry about. I still maintain that the KHL isn’t going to cause much of an immediate stir in the hockey world. However, I am extremely shocked and disappointed with the actions taken and the decisions made by both Alexander Radulov and the KHL over the past few days. My beef is mostly with Radulov because the way this deal went down only further proved his character flaws and lack of maturity; both of which have often been cited by coaches and players alike as things Radulov needs to work on.
For a player to be in negotiations with another league while under contract with a team is such a slap in the face to his teammates, his team and his fans. I understand this from a business point of view because everyone wants to maximize their earning potential. BUT, there is a way to go about doing this fairly and there is a way of going about this underhandedly. It pains me that Radulov chose the latter. I would have no problem with his actions had he been a FA at the end of the season as it only makes sense to weigh all options to get the best deal possible. Jagr did it and good for him...the difference being that he was free to make that kind of decision.
Predators GM David Poile issued a statement yesterday afternoon saying that Radulov is still under contract with the NHL and should live up to his duties in that regard. It seems as though Poile is operating under the assumption that Radulov will show up to training camp come September and all will be right with the world. As far as I’m concerned however, if Radulov doesn’t want to play out his contract with Nashville (as his actions indicate) then so be it. He can take his Russian self back to the motherland and play for the KHL. In fact, it would probably be better for everyone involved if that’s exactly what happened. If Radulov is somehow made to come back and play a final year in Nashville, there will be a lot of animosity in the locker room against this kid. I don’t know what player would want to play on the same team with someone who very obviously doesn’t want to be on that team or even in the city/state/country/league as the rest of his teammates.
Unfortunately, this situation is far from over. Even though it most directly affects the Predators hockey club, I think that the outcome will set the stage for all future negotiations/relations between the NHL and KHL. While it would be great to have this issue resolved in a mutually agreeable manner, I’m inclined to think that it could get ugly. As a Preds fan, I would love nothing more than to have a quiet summer where the biggest blip on the radar is the organization signing some super star FA to a multi-year deal. At this point, drama in the off-season seems more our style.
Thanks to Radulov and the KHL, I’ll have to wait until next year to see if my hope for a quiet summer will be fulfilled.
Saturday, July 12, 2008