Everybody has had a chance to put their two cents in on the prospective return of Radulov to the Preds (so I guess it's my turn)... but if and when it happens, the hating needs to stop until after the season ends. Who cares if he's coming back for three months or three years? You just don't get a chance to add a point per game player (the one we looked for at the deadline) to an already lethal line-up. And who cares if he's a step or two slower at the NHL level than where he has been for the last three seasons? His hands are still quicker than anyone on our roster not named Erat or Kostitsyn...and he makes our 4th line options the envy of every other team in the league. We will SCRATCH better lines than all of the Western Conference can trot out after the first two shifts!
Imagine - Erat, Fisher, and S. Kostitsyn; Radulov, Legwand, Hornqvist; A. Kostitsyn, Gaustad, Smith; and then an energy line of Bourque, Halischuk, and Tootoo. Any game can see Yip, Spaling, or Wilson plugged in for fresh legs... or McGrattan added for some extra muscle. We're already loaded down on "D"... with an embarrassment of riches named Josi and Ellis just waiting to start a 2nd or 3rd game in the series to add some additional speed and firepower. Heck, if we're concerned about Radu's conditioning, play him on the 3rd line (where he will be instantly faster than the competition), playing with a puck-control center like Gaustad!
The point? The hating needs to stop. As a good friend (and long time Preds fan) of mine said on Sunday night - "I don't care if he punched a coach, don't care if he twirls his stick after a goal, and don't care if the young guys on the team don't like him. He has been lethal at this level before. And he will be again. Heck, we get to go to STL soon and he can give Arnott another concussion!"
The system is in place to keep him on track. And if he doesn't play nice, we've already demonstrated that we don't need him. He can watch the games sitting in the press box and remember why he made the call about coming back to Nashville in the first place. St. Louis wins games by shutting down your top two lines, but can't stop them all. Vancouver has no momentum and has really shown it is a two-line offense. Detroit is showing their age... Helm, Franzen, and Lidstrom may not even be able to go in Round 1. And we've been in every game against the Pacific (except for the last stinker in LA.) When you have a goaltender that makes 95% of games a race to "3"... you want to be the team that can get there first.
So let's hate in July. If Raduolv shows up, get excited... because it will be fun, and at least he gives us a spark that makes all four lines a scoring threat each time out. If he shows up and stinks, then he can watch games from Rippy's and we'll continue to grind out wins. And if he doesn't show up, we get to have the same conversation next year.
Don't wait to buy your playoff tickets... because it's going to be a wild time on Broadway in April! And save your ticket stubs... because there are lots of Frosty Nights in the future in Middle Tennessee!