Predators Should Make Radulov Play for Free
In the 2008 off-season, Alexander Radulov was a pioneer in shafting his NHL contract for a more lucrative KHL one. Rather than finishing off his entry level contract in the NHL, he signed a 3 year/$13 million (tax free) contract with Salavat Yulaev. In turn, he violated a legal contract and disappointed Predators’ fans and team mates.
For some reason, Radulov got off scotch free. His case was taken in front of an arbitrator and was unpunished, even though he was in direct violation of his professional contract. Now is the time to do what an arbitrator refused to do – make Radulov pay.
David Poile, General Manager of the Nashville Predators, announced earlier this week that he will meet with Radulov in Switzerland during the IIHF World Hockey Championships. The purpose is unclear, but it is safe to assume, based on Radulov’s insistence of the meeting, that they will discuss the possibility of a return. Radulov still has 2 years left on his contract with Salavat. Is it be possible that Radulov breach two legally binding contracts in the span on a year and a half?
Radulov’s initiative comes at a convenient time, as earlier this month, the KHL announced that it will be reducing all players’ contracts from 5%-20%, depending on how large the contract is. That $13 million doesn’t look so enticing now. It is not as if Radulov was warned of this possibility. European hockey leagues have a history slashing contracts mid-season or occurrences of not even paying players at all.
If Radulov wants to come back to guaranteed money in the NHL, the Predators should force him to play for free. How ironic. His contract should be restarted the following year when his loyalty is re-established with the organization and the fans. Radulov tarnished his reputation in North America and he will have to do a lot of hard work in order to gain trust and loyalty back with not only the fans, but his team mates.
Regarding the subject, Predators’ captain Jason Arnott said:
Not exactly a vote of confidence of the team’s leader. Come to think of it, do the Predators even want him back? Do they need him? If not, what type of team would take on a back stabbing player such as Radulov. Possibly the Washington Capitals, who boast one of Radulov’s closest friends, in Alexander Ovechkin. Not to mention fellow Russians Sergei Fedorov, Victor Kozlov and Alexander Semin.
Nonetheless, the Predators and the NHL have an opportunity to set a precedent with Radulov’s case. If players want to go to another league, while still under contract, they should be punished, especially if they want to come back. There should be at least some sort of pay cut or extended entry level contract for Radulov for his breach.
As a big Radulov fan, it is difficult for me to suggest a punishment for him, but what he did was wrong and should be appropriately punished. For his sake, if he does come back to Nashville, he should be more worried about gaining back the loyalty of the fans and team mates, rather than a new contract.