On Tuesday, ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun shed some light on reactions to Alexander Radulov’s return to the NHL. The Russian forward is projected to soon become a member of the Nashville Predators, something a few NHLers weighed in on.
Washington’s Joel Ward said Radulov would be “an asset” while Alex Ovechkin said he’s “probably the biggest star” in the KHL. One of the most intriguing responses, though, came from Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk.
“I know he’s a good guy and good player too,” Datsyuk told ESPN. “Lots of skill. He’s one of best KHL players for [the] last three years.
“Big help for Nashville Predators. Not good for us.”
That comment led LeBrun to reveal the following:
Datsyuk nailed it at the end of his comment there, saying “not good for us.” The way the Wings are playing right now, and with a first-round date against Nashville likely at this point, no wonder the Wings’ organization was privately fuming last week when the NHL announced its Radulov decision.
The Wings experienced a similar situation in 2010 when forward Jiri Hudler announced he was leaving the KHL to return to Detroit. In 2009, Hudler spurned a two-year, arbitrator-awarded deal to sign with Dynamo Moscow…a club that would eventually fold.
The issue? Even though Dynamo released Hudler on Apr. 18 — five days after the NHL playoffs began — he was ineligible for postseason play because he was not on the Wings’ roster prior to the March trade deadline.
Obviously, Hudler’s case is different from Radulov’s. Hudler left at the end of his contract (meaning Detroit retained his rights) whereas Radulov left during his (meaning he owed Nashville a year of service). Yet the Red Wings organization is still privately seething about this, especially with rumors that Radulov will head back to the KHL next season.
Detroit isn’t the only organization upset with Radulov’s return. St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong claimed Radulov’s case became a contentious debate at the GM meetings in Boca Raton, saying Radulov “gets his cake and eats it, too.”