It doesn't take much for a Russian player to earn the label "enigmatic". It's an unfair stereotype, in my opinion, borne largely on the basis of one or two high-profile characters earning the descriptor. One such character is Alexander Radulov.
Already this season there have been reports of conflict with Salavat Yulaev head coach Sergei Mikhalev, such as when he tweeted that the man was getting on his nerves, but player/coach conflicts have happened before. It's stuff like this that gets people calling you enigmatic:
Seriously, who does that? And on the backhand, no less? That's just rude.
It's worth noting that this isn't the same head coach Radulov tweeted about. This is Ilari Näckel, the team's goaltending coach. Sergei Mikhalev is no longer with the team -- he was fired in November. Still, it's not hard to look at this video, consider the perpetrator, and wonder if this was an intentional thwack.
But, having never seen another player turn around and bludgeon his coach with his stick and believing very strongly in the goodness of people, part of me wonders if this was an accident.
Did Radulov just turn around too quickly or maybe lose his bearings for a second? Or is he really a crazy dude that could bean his coach with a hockey stick at any moment? I put this to you, the reader. What gives?
s/t to our own Dmitri Chesnokov (@dchenokov) for the tip.
Follow Harrison Mooney on Twitter at @HarrisonMooney