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Ken Holland, Central Division rivals not happy with Radulov situation

updated with some odd comments from NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and Predators GM David Poile: In no small part due to the fact that the KHL “poached’” restricted free agent forward Alexander Radulov from the Nashville Predators and then spent the past four seasons insisting that Radulov was the prime example as to how the KHL-NHL relationship had improved in terms of the NHL respecting the KHL’s valid contracts and not “poaching” players themselves, the NHLPA has no problem with a restricted free agent-to-be coming back to fulfill the terms of his contract, and as such, they’ve rubber-stamped the NHL’s front office’s decision to allow Radulov to return to the Nashville Predators, and play for them during the playoffs, without having to clear waivers.

Given that the Detroit Red Wings both lost Evgeni Nabokov’s services because players who play in pro leagues outside the NHL after the NHL’s regular season begins have to clear waivers if they sign with an NHL team, given that the league never really grieved Jiri Hudler’s one-year stint with Dynamo Moscow the way they consistently pestered the KHL about Radulov’s situation, and given that the Wings may very well have lost in terms of bidding for the mercurial Jaromir Jagr’s services because that no-sign-without-waivers rule applies to players until July 1st of the summer following a European pro with NHL experience’s decision to play in a non-NHL league during the regular season, it should come as little surprise that, according to the Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle, the Red Wings aren’t delighted with the NHL and PA’s decision to exempt Radulov from returning to a possible playoff opponent in the Predators, and the Blues aren’t happy with the league’s decision, either:

Radulov famously bolted Nashville in 2008 for the newly formed KHL in his homeland despite having one year left on his entry-level contract. The NHL team is willing to welcome him back, which would allow Radulov to burn off the final season of that deal if he plays just one game.

“All the things are aligned,” said [Predators GM David] Poile. “The [KHL] playoffs are over, the hurdles are cleared. He can burn off the year, get himself to free agency. More important than all of that, I’ve always felt like he was going to come back. From the day he left I always felt he would come back to the best league in the world.”

Radulov could be a potential game-changer for a Predators team that has Stanley Cup aspirations. He scored 26 goals as a sophomore in the NHL and went on to become a two-time KHL MVP and Russian Olympian, prompting some to label him the best player outside of North America.

With less than a month to play in the regular season, some of Nashville’s rivals were unhappy that the NHL opened the door for him to return. Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland, whose team could draw the Predators in the first round of the playoffs, refused to comment on the decision.

Others accepted it with gritted teeth.

“Fair or unfair, I guess you just have live with the ruling,” said St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong, another Central Division rival. “Bill and (commissioner) Gary (Bettman) have difficult decisions to make. They felt that this is the acceptable way. He’s a suspended player, they’re going to lift the suspension and allow him to play. We have to just move forward and accept it.”

Continued with some other GM’s meetings news…

Update: According to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, more than a few GM’s are pissed off about the situation.

The Predators are a Cup contender icing perhaps the best team they have ever assembled anchored by stud rearguards Ryan Suter and Shea Weber and a Vezina-worthy netminder in Pekka Rinne. Poile also added scoring depth at the trade deadline in the form of Andrei Kostitsyn and grit with Paul Gaustad and defenseman Hal Gill. Would Radulov, a two-time MVP in the KHL, put them over the top? Only time will tell of course, but the ability of the Predators to add such a potentially important piece to their playoff arsenal at such a late date in the season certainly rankled a number of GMs.

Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland, normally among the most erudite and approachable GMs, declined to comment on the league’s ruling. His Red Wings appear to be on a collision course with the Predators in the first round of the playoffs.

Other conference foes wondered about the fairness of essentially rewarding a player who walked away from an existing contract and signed another contract in another professional hockey league.

“I understand it from Nashville’s perspective, that they didn’t initiate this. The difficult part is from Radulov’s perspective he did,” said Doug Armstrong, general manager of the current Central Division leader, the St. Louis Blues. He gets his cake and eats it too. I understand Nashville’s point of view but from Radulov’s point of view, he wins on all fronts. Fair or unfair, I guess you just have [to] live with the ruling. As I said, Bill [Daly] and Gary [Bettman] have difficult decisions to make. They felt that this is the acceptable way. He’s a suspended player, they’re going to lift the suspension and allow him to play. We have to just move forward and accept it.”

Although team officials were guarded in their comments to the media, multiple sources told ESPN.com that the discussion got pretty heated when Daly explained the ruling Tuesday morning.

“Oh, it’s competitive, absolutely,” Montreal GM Pierre Gauthier said.  There’s some competitive issues there. Why are they allowed to get a player back? If you’re in the Western Conference, you bring those things up for sure. We all have our competitive juices going.”

Oddly enough, Bill Daly doesn’t like the concept of Radulov getting away with leaving the league and not honoring the full year remaining on his contract…

“The guys in this room are competitors,” Daly said. “So, I certainly understand that they might like the result in this situation to be different. But it’s the result that we’ve tried to preserve for our clubs from the start.”
...
“I don’t like it,” he added. “I don’t like the fact that a player owes a full year under a contract, but ultimately the club didn’t have to take him back [with so little time left in the season]. If they wanted to insist on the full year [of service] it is within their rights to do it.”

And David Poile seems to have forgotten that he’s not alone here:

“Nobody else has been through this as we have,” Poile said. “The NHL and KHL have made a deal after the fact. It’s like ‘We’re not going to take anybody else’s players.’ What about Radulov? ‘Well, after Radulov.’”

Yeah, and Hudler, who was supposedly “different” because he filed for arbitration, which made the restricted free agent, according to the KHL, anyway, a “free agent beyond all bounds.” Hudler was also re-signed and suspended, but I guess he doesn’t count.

Continued...

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Comments

SolidTG7's avatar

BS

Posted by SolidTG7 on 03/13/12 at 08:00 PM ET

Avatar

Unlike Nabokov and Jagr, yuo crybaby Bitch Wing “fans”, Radulov is under contract. So go snivel elsewhere. Hey, where’s C3PO to get all bitch nasty about this. *#$%@& chumps, every single one of you clowns.

Posted by Harrald on 03/13/12 at 08:01 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

Trashville.

League is a joke, if I didn’t have the Wings I would give up the NHL.  Rules only apply when it’s benefitial, can be waved when it’s benefitial.

Sneaky weasel c**t’s

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 03/13/12 at 08:04 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

You definitely didn’t get hugged enough as a child Harrald

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 03/13/12 at 08:07 PM ET

Avatar

Nabokov is not really an apples to apples example when it comes to Radulov.

Posted by larry from pitt on 03/13/12 at 08:07 PM ET

SolidTG7's avatar

Unlike Nabokov and Jagr, yuo crybaby Bitch Wing “fans”, Radulov is under contract. So go snivel elsewhere. Hey, where’s C3PO to get all bitch nasty about this. *#$%@& chumps, every single one of you clowns.

Posted by Harrald on 03/13/12 at 06:01 PM ET

Such a well reasoned statement, the name calling really drives your point home.  Hopefully your reward for this BS is they can’t resign Suter after they don’t go far in the playoffs yet again.

Posted by SolidTG7 on 03/13/12 at 08:07 PM ET

testgrenade's avatar

Ha, “harrald.” You’re mad at your dad not at me!

Posted by testgrenade on 03/13/12 at 08:17 PM ET

Avatar

Just another example of how Bettman allows the rules to be bent for this franchise.  He allows them to lie (and get caught) about attendance and revenue… Nothing happens. 

This team has taken in more revenue sharing over the years than ANYONE.

They were exposed this year for paying a lobbyist 100K to go up to the Capitol and change the tax laws that affect income to that team to be increased.  (http://www.newschannel5.com and search for it)

He has committed collusion with the Balsillie thing, gave Leopold the Minnesota Wild team if he did not sell Balsillie the team. 

They routinely buy their own seats, and report them as paid gate.  (Bettman no comment)

When does it end?  I just hope that Bettman continues to piss off all the owners over this team, and Phoenix to the point he is not rehired.  All the troll has done for the league was get the TV deal, not much else besides overexpansion, and the teams like Detroit and Toronto, etc who make lots of money, having to support his mistakes like Nashville and Phoenix.  I will get off my soapbox now, thanks for allowing me to vent.

Posted by Jim from Nashville on 03/13/12 at 08:22 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

No, Nabokov and Jagr are different examples. I point that out—they did not have NHL contracts when they went overseas. Hudler and Radulov did, at least in theory.

And it’s not just bitchy Wings fans complaining. It’s every team that found the Predators exposing a train-sized loophole in the CBA. This would mean that if you were to, say, qualify a restricted free agent that you knew was going to Europe, and you left him on your team’s regular season and playoff reserve list, you could bring him back after having played regular season games in Europe.

Other GM’s and other teams’ fans have every right to be annoyed, just as the Predators and their fans have every right to be glad they found a loophole to exploit. It is what it is and we’ll see how he adjusts to the NHL’s pace and rink size after four years abroad.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 03/13/12 at 08:24 PM ET

SYF's avatar

And it’s not just bitchy Wings fans complaining. It’s every team that found the Predators exposing a train-sized loophole in the CBA. This would mean that if you were to, say, qualify a restricted free agent that you knew was going to Europe, and you left him on your team’s regular season and playoff reserve list, you could bring him back after having played regular season games in Europe.

Exactly.  What’s to stop teams from applying that loophole to UFAs and over-35 UFAs?  You mean the Wings can sign Lidstrom (over-35 UFA) to a one-year contract, suspend it, let him play in the SEL for 65% of the NHL schedule (hoping that whatever team he plays for tanks their regular season so they’ll miss the playoffs in that league), and then bring him back after the trade deadline just in time for the playoffs?

oUTSTANDING.

Posted by SYF from the team that re-signed KFQ and DFC by KFH on 03/13/12 at 08:35 PM ET

42jeff's avatar

You definitely didn’t get hugged enough as a child Harrald

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 03/13/12 at 06:07 PM ET

Or maybe hugged too much….

Posted by 42jeff from The greater Howard City, MI metroplex on 03/13/12 at 08:41 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

First, I understand the distinction between Nabokov et. al. (not on contract) vs. Radulov (on contract).  I’m not lost or really mad about the why or how. 

...Not so with my inner sense of “WTF?”

In the little bit of law school I attended before leaving due to financial aid difficulties, I learned an important term of art.  Its a term called “a distinction without a difference.” 

Sure this move is (probably) lawful according to the blackletter law of the CBA, but it smells a lot like the CBA has been circumvented to me.  If anything Radulov should be made to cool his jets until next year for not honoring his contract with the Preds in the first place. 

I can understand the gamesmanship in allowing it to happen on the part of Bettman (although it seems like a “six of one or a half dozen of the other” kind of situation on their part).  I just wish he’d be a little more concerned about fairness between NHL teams than he is over the NHL’s position in relation to the KHL.

This is Grade A “2010 Chicago Blackhawk” Bullshit.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 03/13/12 at 08:59 PM ET

Avatar

I guess it was totally fair to the Preds that Radulov walked away while under contract, but it’s not fair to the rest of the teams that he comes back to the Preds while still under contract.  Am I missing anything?

Posted by RoneFace on 03/13/12 at 09:04 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Am I missing anything?

several chromosomes, it seems.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 03/13/12 at 09:12 PM ET

cainer4wingsglory's avatar

Am I missing anything?

Well for starters, common sense and logic…

Posted by cainer4wingsglory on 03/13/12 at 09:18 PM ET

Avatar

Well for starters, common sense and logic…

How do you figure?  He’s under contract.  If Nashville is willing to let him burn the last year of his contract by coming in at the end of the year and for the playoffs that’s up to them and no one else. 

Are you mad because there’s something that’s truly unfair going on, or are you mad because Nashville’s got a chance to get a lot better heading into the playoffs?

Posted by RoneFace on 03/13/12 at 09:20 PM ET

SolidTG7's avatar

It seems a little ridiculous that Radulov gets absolutely no punishment for walking away.  Playing the last X amount of games is not ‘honoring his contract’ its ‘my other season is over, I still have this going for me lets see if it works’.  Of course Nashville is fine with it.

Posted by SolidTG7 on 03/13/12 at 09:23 PM ET

christpuncher's avatar

Well, good for the Preds! I hope Radulov remembers to “keep his head up” on the boards with Kronwall in waiting… I’d hate to see this fresh face get knocked out of the playoffs in the first round…

Posted by christpuncher from Detroit, MI on 03/13/12 at 10:00 PM ET

Avatar

Hey, where’s C3PO to get all bitch nasty about this.

If you mean IwoCPO, the Master Chief, he’s out there defending your right to make an ass out of yourself.

Posted by Seaner from San Jose on 03/13/12 at 10:09 PM ET

Savage Henry's avatar

It’s unfair because players who’ve played in a foreign pro league are supposed to have to clear waivers before joining an NHL team.  If Radulov managed to clear waivers and join the Preds, I’d be OK with it.  As it is, that requirement has magically disappeared to the benefit of one of the NHL’s project franchises.

Posted by Savage Henry on 03/13/12 at 10:14 PM ET

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Savage Henry’s “project franchises” is exactly right.

What about the cap constraints? Someone used the Lidstrom example above, but lets get a little more creative. Say a team is at the cap. And they have three (Lidstrom, Zetterberg and Datsyuk)  of these players under contract, but playing in Sweden/KHL/etc. Can they now just bring them all over for the playoffs, with no cap implication? I can’t wait for the big revenue teams to buy a feeder club over in Europe to stash some players.

Posted by Mike from Toronto on 03/13/12 at 10:29 PM ET

SYF's avatar

How about we go further, Mike?  Suspend (since this is what the Preds did to Radulov’s contract instead of voiding it) all current roster contracts and play with nothing but AHLers, ECHLers, beer leaguers, etc for the league’s cap minimum and then once the final trade deadline has passed, bring everyone on the regular roster back into the fold and get ready for the playoffs.

What a loophole.  i lOVE iT.

Posted by SYF from the team that re-signed KFQ and DFC by KFH on 03/13/12 at 10:43 PM ET

Down River Dan's avatar

I think we all agree this thing has a bit of an aroma to it.

Lil Gary’s little sidekick Mr. Bill has made his “decision”. Not much can be done now.


However, I am really hoping that nashville & phoenix face each other in the 1st round.

Oh what a conundrum little gary and his minions will have on there hands. Which of these two insolvent franchises gets to move on to the second round?

Since the coyotes are costing the league millions a year to keep afloat, it’s better luck next year predators. Oh, wait, with free agency looming for the best players, there is no next season.  shut eye

Posted by Down River Dan on 03/13/12 at 11:28 PM ET

wedge56's avatar

Gary Bettman…words cannot express how much I fuching hate you.

Posted by wedge56 on 03/13/12 at 11:41 PM ET

Chet's avatar

the over/under on an injury for radulov in the NHL this season is 4.5 games. book it.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 03/14/12 at 12:07 AM ET

hiero4life's avatar

Gary Bettman…words cannot express how much I fuching hate you.

Posted by wedge56 on 03/13/12 at 09:41 PM ET

+19

Posted by hiero4life from anywhere i am on 03/14/12 at 12:18 AM ET

NIVO's avatar

radulov gets kronwalled march 30th. Mark it down folks.

Posted by NIVO from underpants gnome village on 03/14/12 at 02:29 PM ET

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People are getting too jacked up over Radulov’s potential return.  1.  It hasn’t happened yet and every year there are rumors about Rad returning.  2.  Even if he does come back and play for the Preds this season, he may be more of a hindrance than a help—KHL people usually need a while for reentry and he may mess up the Pred’s chemistry.  3.  This is truly a unique situation not faced before with his contract situation, whether you like it or not. 

I am getting really tired of hearing people talking about how Nashville doesn’t belong because it’s an expansion team.  It’s not insolvent, it is filling the barn most games this year and when you go to the games there are VERY FEW empty seats, new ownership is willing to invest more than ever before, and it’s a darn fine team getting even without Radulov, enjoying great support in the region.  People who moan and whine constantly about overexpansion (how dare there be teams in non-traditional areas!) are forgetting that expanding the sport is good for everyone if it succeeds.  More competition, more kids wanting to play hockey, more people getting the chance to play in the NHL, more revenue…. I could go on and on.  There aren’t enough people in markets in the old traditional areas to support more teams (remember the old Winnipeg Jets?), and the best chance for increasing the sport is in non-traditional markets.  Quit the whining already about expansion teams, and hope for their success or else hockey will continue to be marginalized in comparison with other pro sports. 

I am also getting very tired of hearing so much made over the Preds early exits from the playoffs in previous seasons.  One of the main reasons is the conference and division they play in, where the team is usually paired up in the first round with the team that goes on to win the Cup or appears in the finals.  Last year, the team advanced to the second round where they lost (barely) to the Canucks who were cup finalists, and fought them a lot harder than the third round team managed.  Look at the overall record of games won each season and number of times making it to the playoffs—gee, it’s one of the best teams consistently in the NHL, behind only the Red Wings.  I think that kind of consistency is more impressive than a team winning a cup one year and then vanishing from the playoffs for the next several…. and is more amazing considering that in the past the team has always been very fiscally conservative.  Of course, we all know that spending money wildly makes for a top contender, just look at the Blue Jackets!

Posted by Karen Redwing from East Tennessee on 03/15/12 at 12:30 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.