Alex Raduov was under contract with the Nashville Predators until the end of the 2008-2009 season. This did not stop him from singing with Salavat Yulaev Ufa of the KHL in 2008. At the time, the NHL had just imposed a “respect players existing contracts “deal with all hockey leagues which would keep Radulov a Predator till 2009. However, the KHL fought the NHL stating that the deal between Radulov and Ufa was made before the international deal was put into affect. The KHL won and Radulov was allowed to play for Ufa.
The Nashville Predators made it apparent that they were making a late season push to the 2012 playoff’s when they acquired Paul Gaustad from the Buffalo Sabers and Andrei Kostitsyn from the Montreal Canadians. This was expected of a team that was in fifth place at the time and was looking to surge into the playoffs. What was not expected was the Predators re-acquiring Alexander Radulov after his time with the KHL .
Nashville brought Radulov back to give them a boost in scoring and produced 7 points in the last 9 games for the team, but things did not turn out as planned. After defeating the Detroit Red Wings in the first round of the 2012 NHL Playoffs the Predators lost to the Phoenix Coyotes in the Conference Semifinals. Time after time during the playoffs, Radulov was pointed out for his selfish play. He was not as productive as imagined and was spotted multiple times with weak backchecks. Then, to top it off, he was caught at a bar with fellow teammate Andrei Kostitsyn past curfew. This enacted the Predators organization to suspend both players, who were brought in to be valuable parts in their Stanley Cup run.
I am not bashing Radulov- in fact I believe he is making a comeback. Instead of taking a career hit from this, Alexander has returned stronger then ever. The Predators did not re-sign him as many assumed, and he chose to play for CSKA of the KHL. Now Radulov leads the KHL in points tallying 14 goals and 21 assists in 25 games and is among the top 5 in goals, assists, game winning goals, and penalty minutes. He has led his team to an 18-7 record giving them 49 points and placing them in forth in the Western Conference. As of now they are four points behind the a first place Dynamo Msk, led by NHL All-Star and fellow countrymen Alexander Ovechkin, and can quickly take over that title.
No matter what happened last year, Radulov would probably be playing in the KHL due to the current NHL Lockout. His late night antics certainly did not help his team but I believe other players have done much worse with a smaller punishment. As long as Alex is putting up these numbers, and keeps adding to his KHL all-time leading points record, the question should be asked whether or not the Predators should have given him another chance.
Let me know your opinion below!