Given the bombshell NHLPA boss Paul Kelly dropped on AM 640 Toronto Radio last night, it seems likely that tomorrow’s game between Salavat Yulaev Ufa and Avangard Omsk (8am EDT, Sportbox.ru) will be overshadowed by the latest episode of the Alexander Radulov soap opera. Kelly, speaking as a guest on the Bill Waters show, implied that Radulov has soured on his new league and is ready to return to Nashville. “We have spoken to the player; we have spoken to the agent. This is a fairly unique set of circumstances and this is a very young guy, who has decided to return home for some reasons which are public, some reason which are personal. This isn’t a guy who just breeched a contract in any kind of a dismissive way. There are factors which haven’t been publicly reported,” Kelly confided. “My information is that the player very much wants to return and play in the NHL. I have that on extremely good authority. He’s tried the KHL and seen what it has to offer for a few games already.”
“He was quite successful last year for the Nashville Predators,” Kelly continued. “I think in the long term Alexander wants to play in the NHL and I believe there is an outcome which is doable, which will involve some type of an agreement between the NHL, the KHL and the player himself and the Nashville Predators, and we’re working in that regard.”
Radulov was in Omsk today, where his team opted not to take the ice for an off-day practice. When approached by the press — who obviously hadn’t yet heard of Kelly’s revelations — Radulov at first dismissed them with a wave before agreeing to answer a few questions regarding his team’s next opponents. But when the conversation turned to the issue of Nashville, Soviet Sport reports that Radulov cut the interview off abruptly, refusing to answer the question, and headed for the team bus. Not exactly the kind of response he provided only a month ago when he proclaimed it was time for the NHL to “stop robbing us!” in referenced to the NHL’s 15-year history of mining Russian talent.
For more on Radulov and the NHL-KHL Cold War, and the IIHF’s goal of brokering peace, check out these excerpts from a lengthy interview with IIHF president Rene Fasel, originally published in Sport-Express and expertly translated by Stu Hackel of the NY Times, who deserves major kudos for taking the time to do the translation. (And for being the best place on the web to get KHL news in English.)
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