One of the things people are anxious to see in the upcoming season is how things will go in Washington between Alex Ovechkin and Barry Trotz.
Trotz has said things might get uncomfortable under his watch as he brings a new culture and more accountability to the table. Could that be trouble for Ovechkin? Not if you asked former Nashville Predator, and his Team Russia teammate, Alexander Radulov.
Pavel Lysenkov of Sovetsky Sport shared a quote from Radulov (via Dmitry Chesnokov) about what he’d tell Ovechkin if he asked about Trotz. Perhaps surprisingly, it’s all good news.
“Bad coaches don’t work at the same club for 15 years.” Radulov told Lysenkov today. “When I came to Nashville Trotz helped me a lot. I learned a lot. I became a hockey player. The coach trusted me, called me up from the minors. I have only the best memories of Trotz. This is a new challenge for him [in Washington]. Life changed, he had to go. But he has a lot of ideas that he will be able to realize in Washington.”
In case you’ve forgotten, things didn’t exactly end well in Nashville for Radulov after the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He and Andrei Kostitsyn were benched by Trotz for violating curfew while in Arizona and it caused a major distraction for the Preds as they were bounced from the Western Conference Semifinals in five games by the Coyotes.
It’d be easy for Radulov to hold it against Trotz for things going badly. Instead, he’s talking him up in a big way. Perhaps things will go just fine in Washington.
Remember Alexander Radulov? He’s the former Nashville Predators forward who, along with Andrei Kostitsyn, made headlines in all the wrong ways after being busted staying out late partying while the Preds faced (and lost to) the Coyotes in the 2012 playoffs.
While he went back to Russia after that downer of an ending to his NHL season, he’s got something else to be bummed out about. Radulov was stripped of his captaincy of CSKA Moscow in the KHL. As R-Sport reports (via Dmitry Chesnokov), it was GM and former Red Wings star Sergei Fedorov who made the call.
“The last captain had problems with discipline,” said Fedorov, who did not mention Radulov by name. “Will it hurt the previous captain? He shouldn’t and cannot be hurt.”
Taking his spot as captain is former Pittsburgh Penguins forward Alexei Morozov. Seeing that Radulov hasn’t really curtailed his fiery ways and ability to play nice with his teammates should help Predators fans feel even better that the team parted ways with him.
For the most part, Russian-born (and other European) stars tend to bolt for more lucrative contracts with the KHL. (Alex Radulov is the most convenient example.) Yet there is a smaller trend forming in the background: depth players – some even from North America – are beginning to view the KHL as viable option as well.
Ken Wiebe reports that (former) Winnipeg Jet Tim Stapleton has agreed in principle to a deal with the KHL’s Dinamo-Minsk. Stapleton had easily the best season of his young career in 2011-12, setting career-highs for goals (11), assists (16), points (27) and games played (63).
As mentioned earlier this off-season, Stapleton joins a lower-level exodus that also includes Mats Zuccarello, Erik Christensen, Sami Lepisto and Curtis Sanford. Even former Carolina Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice decided to give the upstart professional league a shot.
It’s not exactly the sort of raid that will leave NHL teams trembling, but it’s interesting to see marginal players get more bargaining power than they’ve likely ever enjoyed.
Since he’s on his way out of the league for at least a little while, I thought I’d leave you with this random AP photo where it looks like Jeff Skinner is giving him a “DDT.”
Devils farmhand and one-time prospect Vladimir Zharkov is taking his talents back to Russia while former Calder winner Andrew Raycroft is doing things a little different.
Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice reports Zharkov is heading to the KHL after signing a two-year deal with CSKA Moscow. CSKA has been busy picking off NHL guys lately as they locked up Alexander Radulov to a four-year, $36.8 million deal yesterday. Zharkov was a hot prospect at one point in the Devils organization but got lost in the shuffle the last couple seasons.
Meanwhile, former Stars backup goalie Andrew Raycroft is off to play in Italy according to Matias Strozyk of Jatokaika in Finland. Strozyk says Raycroft signed with Milano Rossoblu in Italy’s Serie A, a squad hoping to eventually play in the KHL. Raycroft is the 2004 Calder Trophy winner who has fallen on hard times of late in the NHL losing his backup job in Dallas to Richard Bachman this past season.
The Nashville Predators won’t have Alexander Radulov to kick around anymore.
Slava Malamud of Russia’s Sport-Express reports Radulov has agreed to a four-year contract with CSKA Moscow of the KHL, thus ending his not-so glorious return to the NHL.
Malamud reports CSKA general manager and former NHL star Sergei Fedorov was instrumental in recruiting Radulov back to Russia, and that they have their sights set on Alexander Semin next.
Radulov’s brief return to Nashville was initially meant to help make the Predators serious Stanley Cup threats. Instead, Radulov — along with Andrei Kostitsyn — wound up getting busted for breaking curfew and suspended by the Predators for a game. That distraction, along with other poor play, saw the Predators get bounced out of the second round by the Coyotes.
Now Radulov goes down as the guy who did more to hinder a team’s Cup chances than helped. At least he’ll always have his performance in the first round against Detroit to look back fondly upon.
Update (10:04 a.m. ET): Yahoo! Sports’ Dmitry Chesnokov reports Radulov will make $9.2 million a year with CSKA. Safe to say he wasn’t going to make close to that in the NHL.