July 11: Radulov breaks his contract with the Preds and signs with Salavat Yulaev Ufa of the KHL. As he said at the time, regarding a return to the NHL: "I think that if I play well I will be taken back without any questions. I will be 25. And also, who knows what will happen in 3 years? Maybe our KHL will be so good that there will be no reason to leave?"
August 9: Radulov reaffirms his commitment to the KHL in an interview with Russian Prospects, and claims his defection strikes a blow for Russian hockey against these greedy capitalists in the NHL. "I completely agree with the position of my new club: during the singing of the contract there was no agreement between the NHL and the KHL. If we didn't violate any rules - what is there to punish for?" he said. "I can understand both sides. But the position of the Continental Hockey League has significantly more weight: NHL for 15 years brought young players from Europe, first and foremost from Russia. I think that it is time to end this. Simply put: time to stop robbing us!"
Sept. 11: NHLPA executive director Paul Kelly says in a radio interview that Radulov has made it clear behind the scenes that he's displeased with the KHL and wants to return to the NHL. "My information is that the player very much wants to return and play in the NHL. I have that on extremely good authority. He's tried the KHL. He's seen what it has to offer for a few games already. He was quite successful last year for the Nashville Predators. I think, long-term, Alexander wants to play in the NHL," said Kelly.
Oct. 14: A letter Radulov allegedly wrote to KHL president Alexander Medvedev goes public, in which he denies ever reaching out to the NHL and again reaffirms his commitment to the KHL. "I returned to Russia not so that I could return again to the NHL but rather to offer all of my efforts and professionalism to the betterment of Russian hockey taking it to a new level," according to a translation of the letter "attributed to Radulov and provided by the KHL" to the Canadian Press.
Oct. 15: In his first North American interview since leaving the NHL, Radulov tells John Glennon of the Tennessean "that letter was a misunderstanding" and that if an arbitrator decides he belongs to the Predators, we will return to the NHL. If the court rules in the KHL's favor ... well: "If it says you're free, I will stay here until the end of the year for sure because I have a contract here right now. The season has started and I've already played 15 games. I can't just leave my team." (Emphasis ours, joke Radulov's.)
Since the KHL is dodging arbitration (and obviously has other things on its plate these days), the notion of Radulov returning to the NHL remains a long-shot this season -- unless, of course, the Predators are contending for the postseason and the wheels of justice miraculously start spinning faster in 2009.
The argument for whether or not Radulov will be welcomed back to Nashville is a debate for another day. While he doesn't regret his decision, he told Glennon:
"I don't see why not," Radulov said. "It's up to them and it's up to me. We'll see. It's a great city, a great town to play hockey. When I was playing there, we had great fans. I had a great time there."
So there you go.
There have been so many flip-flops from Radulov (and his representation) in this affair that it's hard to accept anything as fact, even from the horse's mouth. At this rate, I'm not sure what we'll see first: Alex Radulov back in the NHL, or Guns N' Roses' "Chinese Democracy" on sale at Best Buy.