I spent the majority of Tuesday afternoon loitering in a lobby while waiting for the NHL’s big wigs to emerge from a boardroom and their Board of Governors meeting.
Here then are a few things that left an impression after the post-meeting interviews…
When David Poile speaks about the Alexander Radulov situation, even his body language indicates the Nashville GM is and was truly surprised by the young Russian’s decision to bolt for the Kontinental League.
The talk that Radulov already wants back into the NHL feels genuine. One of the things Poile touched on was Radulov’s desire to play amongst the best players in the world, as indicated by the fact he came to North America as an 18-year-old to play in the Quebec League.
Poile admitted to being “flabbergasted” when Radulov originally decided to bolt. It really sounds to me like it was a snap decision on Radulov’s part, perhaps based on the fact he and Nashville hadn’t come together on an NHL contract extension (this is the last year of his entry-level deal) as quickly as he would have liked.
My guess is this kid will be a Predator again sooner rather than later.
My first face-to-many-media-faces encounter with Brian Burke came as advertised. Originally, the brash Ducks GM said he wasn’t going to comment on the decision to place Mathieu Schneider on waivers. But after a reporter asked a follow-up question about whether or not Burke could have gotten anything for the defenseman in a trade, the big man couldn’t hold his tongue:
“I turned down 25 offers for him and put him on waivers. That’s not a very smart question.”
He then gruffly supplied the explanation the reporter was after.
“His age and his salary are factors for any team that’s bumping up against the cap,” Burke said.
The best Gary Bettmanism came late in the day after the NHL commissioner was asked whether he was concerned rising fuel costs could eventually deter people from driving to NHL games from suburban areas.
Bettman acknowledged families have to make choices about how to spend their dollars and that could, conceivably, play out with people opting to burn their gas while driving somewhere other than an arena.
However, he did add: “For every yin, there’s a yang. It may be that more people are now staying home and watching things on television and that will improve ratings.”
You hear that, NBC? The free ride is almost over.
Ryan Dixon is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey’s Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog normally appears Wednesdays and his column, Top Shelf, appears every other Friday.
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.