Alex Radulov returned to the Nashville Predators' ice on Wednesday, with Coach Barry Trotz saying the winger might play on Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins, potentially on a line with Patric Hornqvist and David Legwand.
Legwand, of course, was one of only six current players that Radulov played with back in 2008, when he left the Predators for the KHL while still under contract. (He and Pekka Rinne were AHL teammates, for the record.)
GM David Poile reiterated today that there was nothing odd about this reunion: That Radulov's return was akin to a player being acquired at the trade deadline and joining a tight-knit locker room.
But what do the players think?
Via The Tennessean and Mike Organ, several reactions after practice to a question about "lingering feelings" after Radulov's 2008 departure:
Center David Legwand: "The group that was mad at him when he left us is out of here. He's a good hockey player and we're going to need him at his best down the stretch. That's all we can ask for."
Defenseman Ryan Suter: "Everyone makes decisions based on what is best for themselves. He felt that was the best decision for him and we can't fault him for that."
Defenseman Shea Weber (on reaching out to Radulov in Russia): "I talked to him a bunch of times. We stayed in touch. We kind of hung out when he was here. Obviously we were hoping that he would eventually come back and now he's here and it's exciting."
Coach Barry Trotz: "Alex was in a unique situation when he went back to Russia. You're 21 years old, a league is making you the face of the whole league and the dollar value is astronomical to what he was making over here and he was going back home. You think about all that and I think a lot of guys would have made that decision. The guys realize that and they also realize that he wanted to come back and be a part of this group that's the great thing."
So, in summary, he did what he did, and now he wants to be in Nashville. For, like, the next two months at least.
(No word how Jordin Tootoo feels about all of this, having played with Rads and potentially having been forced out of the lineup thanks to his return.)