Marc Bergevin has often repeated that some of the biggest mistakes are made on July 1st. By that, he means that the competition gets so strong, the level of desperation gets so high, that teams end up signing players for money and/or terms that they end up regretting. At the time of writing this, over half a billion dollars has been committed in guaranteed contracts.
Seeing all big names being signed to ridiculous contracts, some of which Bergevin had had discussions with, made most fans quite thankful that the Habs didn’t pull the trigger on those deals. But Bergevin wasn’t to be outdone, when reports out of Russia stated that the Canadiens had signed Alexander Radulov.
Fans and media had to wait a couple of hours to get the confirmation that the Canadiens and Radulov had reached a contract agreement for one season. The talented but controversial Russian will touch $5.75 million for his try-out season with the Habs.
I will the first to admit that I was less than thrilled when I found out about the (potential) signing. Radulov doesn’t spell character, as he had more than his fair share of bad decisions while with the Nashville Predators. But I changed my mind when listening to a report from John Lu on TSN, reading a text from an insider out in Russia, who knows Radulov:
I then listed to Marc Bergevin’s press conference and like him, I feel quite good about the signing. Bergevin insisted on the one-year deal, to minimize his risk. What really hit me though is when the Canadiens’ GM revealed that he spoke to newly acquired Shea Weber about the enigmatic Russian. Weber’s response was that in his case, it was not a lack of character, but rather a lack of maturity. Then Bergevin continued to do his homework when he spoke to Radulov’s coach, Sergei Fedorov, who confirmed that he wasn’t the same player who left Nashville, that he now has a child, and that no one works harder than him.
Like Bergevin, I’m cautiously optimistic about this signing but as he said himself:
I had a discussion with Alex and I have a good feeling about him. Having said that, I also had a discussion with Zack (Kassian), so it’s a gamble for sure.
In his own press conference, Radulov sounded like a more mature person and his answers were on point. He didn’t try to find excuses for himself and he genuinely sounded like he wanted to come back for the right reasons.
What happened in the past is in the past. I did what I did, you look in the past and regret things but I know more what I’m doing now and what I want. I want to focus on hockey. The NHL is the best league, I’m older and I want to play against the best players and try to win a Stanley Cup. Montreal has a good group of guys with a great goaltender, great defense and some good forwards, and it’s a good fit. I want to contribute and help. I’m really happy to be a teammate with Shea Weber again.
So Habs’ fans, everyone deserves a second chance. We’ve all made mistakes and learned from them. Something tells me that this gamble could very well work out for Bergevin and the Canadiens and if that’s the case, Radulov could very well have found a new home. We know how Habs’ fans like Russian players.