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Alex Radulov is Russia’s unlikely, divisive Olympic MVP

Dmitry Chesnokov
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SOCHI, Russia – Alexander Radulov is a beauty and the beast, both in one person.

The raw talent, who will never be tamed. He was 14 when he got kicked out from a sports school in Yaroslavl when his coach called his talent “without promise. ” He was the person who, while staying at the aforementioned school, kicked out doors to his room unable to wait for the jammed locks to be opened.

Alex Radulov will frustrate any fan, coach or general manager with his unruly temper and raw emotion.

In one interview to Sovetsky Sport, he said, “I need to be a little bit calmer, more disciplined, execute coach’s instructions better. I want to talk less to referees. I like to argue, but it is pointless. I am emotional. But if I were more composed, maybe I wouldn’t play hockey anymore. Being expressive is my thing.”

These words were spoken when Radulov was 17. He may as well say it now and it will still be the truth.

Only “lazy” hasn’t been the label for Radulov over the last week, especially in light of his performance against the United States, where he was in the penalty box for both of the goals against Russia.

No, he was playing with lots of energy and desire. Radulov was just using all of that in the negative. It is when the quantity of his attempts to do something on the ice turns into quality, Radulov becomes the raw untamed beast, whose grin and reckless drive can scare any opponent.

He has 3 goals and 3 assists in four games in the Sochi Olympics, doing more offensively for Russia than either Alex Ovechkin or Evgeni Malkin. He’s proving his critics wrong, even if his teammates don’t feel he needs to do so.

“Radulov doesn’t need to prove anything to anybody,” his linemate Ilya Kovalchuk said after the game. “We all know what we can do, we all know what is expected of us. And it’s not just today, he is always very energetic, moves a lot, creates a lot of chances. He plays really well. ”

His teammates spoke about him. But Radulov himself kept his oath of not talking to the media during any kind of playoffs, and was the first to go through the mixed zone past all the media yelling his name.

It is said there have only been two coaches in Radulov’s career who could handle him – Patrick Roy and Vyacheslav Bykov. The only approach that worked for him was to make him almost an equal without any attempts to subordinate him.

Is this something that the Russian coaching staff did that transformed Radulov into a different player who created a goal for Ilya Kovalchuk and scored two against Norway to get Russia into the quarter final game in Sochi against Finland?

“He played really well today. He played with a desire and, most importantly, he was effective, ” Coach Bilyaletdinov said after the game. “I can’t say anything bad about him. Only the good. ”

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