CALGARY - The fact Alexander Radulov may return to the Nashville Predators after a full season in the KHL and playing about 10 games counts as his final year of an entry-level contract is preposterous.
Something is wrong when a player who walked out on his NHL deal with one year remaining and spent four seasons overseas is allowed to come back in time for the playoffs. Worse yet, that counts as a season against his contract.
But those are the rules.
(Personally, Radulov should owe the Predators a full season before his contract expires and not have those four years count toward unrestricted free agency, but we know that won’t happen.)
The fact the league is about to receive an infusion of talent in the final few weeks of the regular season is a great thing.
We’re not just talking about the mercurial Radulov here.
As a hockey fan, how can you not be thrilled to see both Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang back in the Pittsburgh Penguins lineup Thursday night?
In Washington, Nicklas Backstrom appears to be finally nearing a return from the concussion suffered Jan. 3 when Rene Bourque, then of the Calgary Flames, nailed him in the chops with a drive-by elbow.
Meanwhile, Minnesota’s Mikko Koivu (shoulder), Colorado’s Matt Duchene (ankle) and San Jose’s Martin Havlat are either back in action or darn close.
Now, if only we could get Chicago captain Jonathan Toews (concussion) and Detroit’s dynamic duo of Pavel Datsyuk (knee) and Nicklas Lidstrom (ankle) returning and many others.
Considering all the negative stories generated by this season of injuries, the NHL could use such an infusion of talent as soon as possible.
Then, the powers that be can start figuring out a way to prevent another work stoppage.
We don’t know whether Thursday’s game against Phoenix or Friday’s in Edmonton will be Sven Baertschi’s final game with the Flames before he’s sent back to the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks, but it’s great to think the 2011 first-round draft choice will return to the junior ranks with all kinds of lessons to carry him forward and confidence he can succeed in the NHL. Not that anybody will want to wish bad things on Baertschi’s Winterhawks, but the WHL playoffs will begin next week, and you never know what upsets loom ... To give credit where it’s due, Matt Stajan deserves some positives in his Flames era, such as that overtime winner Tuesday against San Jose. Stajan may have too big of a contract, but he never forced then-GM Darryl Sutter to give him such a deal, and has quietly gone about his business in every role given him this season. Now, if only he’d stop beating himself up when things don’t work so well.
It’s amazing to think Thursday’s game against the New York Rangers is only the 11th time Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal have been in the Pittsburgh lineup since the start of last season ... Hybrid icing is probably the best-case scenario for the NHL, with the right combination of player safety with the opportunity to creating offensive chances by winning a race. Now, if only the league’s GMs would do away with the stupid trapezoid which prevents goalies from playing the puck in the corners ... Sure the Vancouver Canucks are struggling, but does that team look bored waiting for the playoffs to start? It’s like a teenager who can’t wait for summer break ... Speaking of struggling teams, as much as Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas deserves blame for the club’s woes of late, has anybody watched Zdeno Chara? The big defenceman is a giveaway machine ... Is it possible Edmonton’s Jordan Eberle is another version of Chicago’s Jonathan Toews? ... Back to award talk, Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog must be the front-runner for the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year ... There’s something priceless about Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau carping about the two-minute boarding penalty handed to Dallas defenceman Stephane Robidas received after hitting Anaheim forward Corey Perry, saying it should have been a more severe and Robidas “gets away with murder all the time.” Maybe Boudreau has never noticed the times Perry “accidentally” falls on a goalie two or three times in the same game?
YOU DON'T SAY
“We get paid huge money to (play hockey) and most of the time you get paid big money it comes with a lot of risks involved and we’re compensated. We know that risk when we step on the ice so you go along with it, so everybody just shut up. (Soldiers) are going overseas spending nine months away from their wives and kids and risk their lives and do it for x amount of dollars, and we’re going to sit here and cry because one guy’s making $5 million and he’s out with a concussion then shame on us.”
— Florida Panthers Krys Barch to the South Florida Sun Sentinel