The return of Alexander Radulov to the Nashville Predators appears imminent. After absconding from the Predators in 2008 and spending four seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League, Mr. Radulov has decided that he will return to the NHL.
The move, universally heralded as a great boon to the Predators playoff hopes, will ultimately prove to be quite the opposite.
I find it surprising that the Predators an organization known for their team first mentality would welcome back with open arms someone who quit on the team. Make no mistake quit is exactly what Radulov did. By leaving the organization while still under contract during the 2008 offseason Radulov elevated his own interests above those of his teammates. Whatever the motivation for bolting to the KHL, whether monetary or otherwise is beside the point. The point is that Radulov ignored his contractual obligation to the Predators and his accountability to his teammates in order to enter in to another contractual agreement more to his preference.
Not only did Radulov prove himself to be a poor teammate by abandoning his team, he also proved himself to be spineless by reneging on his contract. I do not care if you are an NHL player or a bricklayer, if you sign a contract, you put your name on the dotted line, you honour that contract. If not you are nothing more than gutless.
To have a player of this calibre return to the Predators to nominally play out the rest of his contract shows the blinding allure of talent. Radulov believed by most to be the best hockey player outside of the NHL is hands down a world talent. He is talented yet he has major character flaws. Clearly his talent quotient has blinded the Predators to the fact that only a few short years ago he willfully walked away from the team.
All of the Predators are saying the right things about Radulov returning to the team. They claim that they are happy to have him and that the fact that he has parachuted onto this team late in the season will not disrupt team chemistry. We will see if they are singing the same tune when he returns and starts taking away ice time from men who have put in the time all season, who have endured more for a lot less than this guttersnipe ran away from. Sure maybe they will be able to live with him if the Preds are winning. How will they feel though in the playoffs when this selfish player fails to sell out to block a shot or refuses to take a hit to get the puck out at the blue line? You succeed in the playoffs with guys who look for a way, not a way out. Alex Radulov is not this type of person. His track record has indicated that he will look for the easy way out.
Other western conference GMs are upset that Radulov will return to the Predators. On the contrary, they should be happy. Mark my words; if Radulov returns to the Predators they will lose in the first round.
I once heard long-time coach Dave King speak. The thing he said that most stuck with me was that “you don’t win with good players, you win with good people”. Radulov is a good player; he is not a good person.