Son of Liberty
Alexander Radulov certainly sounds as if he has no regrets about bolting the Nashville Predators and creating an international incident by signing with Salvat Ufa of the Kontinental Hockey League despite having a valid NHL contract.
Insisting he's broken no rules, Radulov has already played three exhibition games with his new club. The rising star painted himself as a patriot returning home, signalling a return to prominence for Russian hockey in a question-and-answer session this week with Russian reporters.
"The NHL for 15 years has brought young players from Europe, first and foremost from Russia," according to a translation in Russianprospects.com. "I think that it is time to end this. Simply put: (It's) time to stop robbing us."
The International Ice Hockey Federation is reviewing Radulov's status and has indicated that the player, his team and his league may face sanctions if it's ruled his rights are still owned by the Nashville Predators.
Radulov could be suspended from international play. So could his team and even the Russian Federation.
Szymon Szemberg, spokesperson for the IIHF, told the Star he expected a decision on Radulov next week.
Radulov says he agreed to terms with Salvat on June 25 while he was on vacation, and signed the deal July 8. Word of his signing wasn't announced until July 11. Those dates are apparently important.
It was on July 10 that the NHL, IIHF and representatives of Russian hockey emerged from a meeting in Zurich with a deal not to poach players under contract while all sides agreed to work toward a more formal transfer agreement.
(The old agreement collapsed over the winter as other European countries followed Russia's lead in balking at the $200,000 U.S. transfer fee.)
So Salvat contends Radulov was signed before the Zurich meeting, and therefore Russian hockey is not in violation.
"I completely agree with the position of my new club: During the signing of the contract there was no agreement between the NHL and the KHL," said Radulov. "If we didn't violate any rules, what is there to punish for?"
Radulov to NHL: `Stop robbing us'