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Puck Daddy, Say It Ain't So

I'm a big fan of Greg Wyshynski's NHL blogging work over at Yahoo (Puck Daddy), but his screed today painting the Predators as a "desperate" team for how they're handling the Alexander Radulov situation is more than a bit absurd. He uses some tenuous logic coupled with bogus comparisons to portray the Nashville organization as one that is barely clinging to life.

His main point is that by coming out in a Tennessean article yesterday and claiming that the door is being held open for Radulov to return, the Predators are showing a gutlessness that, in his mind, outlines a clear difference between them and Stanley Cup-winning franchises like Detroit and New Jersey.

Look, I know goal-scoring is at a premium and Radulov has plenty of upside. But just so we're clear: He walked out on his contract. To think that some statistic act of contrition will erase that fact from the memory banks is appalling and embarrassing for the Predators. Do you think the Red Wings would put up with this? How about Lou Lamoriello?

I suppose that speaks volumes about where those franchises have gone in the last decade, and where the Predators haven't.

First of all, what other course of action is reasonable for the Predators to take here? To not attempt to enforce their contractual rights and allow Radulov to simply walk away would truly be gutless. And the Puck Daddy's suggestion that they should, "trade his ass to a complete no-man's land for hockey. Some city that barely can hold on to its franchise. A city like ... uh, scratch that." Is just another tired swipe at Nashville.

Secondly, to draw a comparision with Detroit and New Jersey is a complete exercise in speculation on his part. The closest either team has come to something like this situation was when Sergei Fedorov held out at the beginning of the 1997-98 season and got a huge offer sheet from Carolina... which the Red Wings matched and brought him back, even though many fans to this day hold that episode against him. It's not an exact parallel because Fedorov was a restricted free agent at the time, but many saw his holding out and accepting that offer sheet as a slap in the face to a team with which he had just won the Stanley Cup.

Wyshynski is also way off the mark when characterizes quotes from the Predators by saying that "if Radulov comes back to Nashville and puts some pucks in opponents' nets, all is forgiven." All the quotes from Barry Trotz and Jason Arnott refer to Radulov's professionalism; if he comes back and can focus on hockey, he'll be welcome. But as Arnott says, "if he comes back with the attitude that it's his last year here and he doesn't really care, then it's going to be a long year. It's going to be tough.'' That's not desperate, that's realistic.

Rodney Dangerfield
The Nashville Predators' New Mascot?

The Predators are facing some trying situations this summer between the Del Biaggio affair and now the Radulov defection, but the franchise is on much more solid ground than many others around the league (Florida, Atlanta, Phoenix, and the NY Islanders jump immediately to mind). Because of the franchise sale from last year, however, writers around the hockey world feel free to paint them as the Sick Man of the NHL time and time again. Perhaps the team should get rid of Gnash as their mascot, and resurrect the spirit of Rodney Dangerfield instead.

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