According to Dan Rosen's Twitter , the NHL and KHL may have finally put a padlock on the chicken coop. While this does little to salve the still-festering wounds left when the Red Fox absconded with Preds' beloved golden chicken Alexander Radulov, it does provide a modicum of hope. What will be key, and hopefully there is clarification soon, is how\if any "grandfathering" is applied. There's been speculation on both sides of the pond about the way things will shake out when Radulov's final year of his three-year contract with Salavaet Ufa expires, this summer. We've heard loose assurances from David Poile that the chain of communication has been constant, and a contrite Radulov has seen the error of his ways. Conversely, we've heard that a patriotic Radulov is enjoying his national-hero status in mother Russia, and will continue to thumb his nose at the soon-to-be-inferior NHL. The wildcard in all of this will-he\won't-he has been the lack of a formal transfer agreement between the two countries. While there has been a loose "gentlemen's agreement" between the two leagues for some time, it's always felt like a Mafia arrangement. Maybe they'll come through -- maybe they won't.
Radulov currently lealds the KHL in scoring with 3g, 14a in 19 gp
With this new agreement, there's some hope that a binding order will see Radulov delivered back to Nashville. The key item to interpret will be whether Radulov will somehow be excluded from this arrangement, perhaps using semantics to allow Ufa to re-sign him. It wouldn't be surprising to see the KHL claim that they meant "from now on," or that there's a difference in signing a NEW contract versus renewing an EXISTING contract. For all the ivory-white smiling the KHL is doing now, it's hard to believe there isn't a forked tongue hiding behind the teeth, somewhere. I'd be surprised if the KHL was ready to easily relinquish their reigning MVP and biggest star. The real leverage will exist when there's an IIHF transfer agreement, subjecting the Russian national team to potential disciplinary action in the event that there's a breach. Currently, Russia is the only major national entity without a formal transfer agreement, and has been without one since 2006.
Of course, suppose Radulov is ready to return? Are the fans ready to have him back? Are his teammates? There's been a fair amount of rumbling that Radulov was not popular in the Arnott-helmed Predators dressing room. On the other hand, there's been a fair amount of rumbling that ARNOTT was not popular in the Arnott-helmed dressing room, either. I would have to think that Radulov would likely have some explaining to do, but an offensively-starved Nashville squad would be foolish to turn their noses up at what could be an enormous boost to their scoring arsenal. With much of the "old guard" moved on, Radulov should be in a position to make a fresh start, and I would have to believe that much of the ill will would evaporate the first time he lit the lamp and treated us to his trademark stick-twirling celebration.
Let the Van Halen-inspired theme song blare from the Bridgestone Arena loudspeakers once more.