Alexander Radulov has spent the better part of the past decade as one of the KHL’s top stars and he’s heading back to the NHL this coming season having conquered the Russia-based league in just about every way possible. With that in mind, he has his sights set on one of the few major trophies he hasn’t won: the Stanley Cup.
Radulov, 30, met with media Monday for the first time as a member of the Montreal Canadiens, and the now-veteran winger said that the chance to chase the Stanley Cup is one of the major things that drew him to the Habs.
“It’s always a hockey town and they always want to go for a run and for a Cup,” Radulov said, via the Montreal Gazette’s Stu Cowan. “That’s the reason I chose Montreal because I want to play and I want to compete for a Cup. That’s the main thing.”
In Radulov, the Canadiens certainly have a player who can help them chase a championship, too. Over his 391 games in the KHL, Radulov netted 169 goals and 492 points, as well as another 24 goals and 89 points in 92 playoff games. His trophy case has four KHL MVP awards, a Gagarin Cup, a QMJHL MVP award, CHL MVP award, Memorial Cup and Memorial Cup MVP. He’s a game-breaking talent.
However, those familiar with Radulov’s past may question his commitment. That’s especially true for those who remember his time as a Nashville Predator.
During his tumultuous tenure with the Predators — one that saw him leave the team for the KHL in the midst of his NHL entry-level deal — Radulov was infamously suspended in the middle of the post-season for missing curfew. This while on a short-term return in 2011-12 that saw him play 17 games and fulfill the remainder of his entry-level deal. Radulov didn’t shy away from answering questions about the suspension, but he said those days are far behind him.
“It’s in the past and I don’t really want to get into it because I explained that many times,” Radulov said, via Cowan. “Now I have family, I have no time to go somewhere and I really don’t want to because I’m getting older and I know I got to take care of myself and be in shape and be 100 percent every day. I know how to do that.”
Radulov said that his focus now, in Montreal and in his second shot at life in the NHL, is to be the best possible player he can be both on and off the ice. He said he believes the best way for the team to win is by building a strong enough relationship off the ice that it translates to the on-ice product. And even though he’s known for his offensive acumen, Radulov said he wants to “play both ways on the ice and create scoring chances and help the team.”
The fact remains that regardless of what Radulov says he’ll have to show his commitment, and that’s something he said he believes he can do.
“I wasn’t here for four years and I know what people are expecting from me,” Radulov said, via Cowan. “I know they didn’t see me for a few years but, like I said, I’m ready and I want to prove to everybody — to myself first of all — that I can play here and be a good player here and help the team.”
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