Forward “Ak Bars” Alexander Radulov was withdrawn from the main team before the match with “Neftekhimik”, said the head coach of Kazan Oleg Znarok. The mentor did not explain the reasons for his decision, but noted that there were no more untouchables left in the team. What could be the reason for the transfer to the reserve of the top scorer of Ak Bars this season and whether this could lead to his leaving the club – in the RT material.
Ak Bars can safely be called one of the main disappointments of the first part of the KHL regular season. In the summer, Kazan held a powerful pre-bid campaign and replenished with a number of stars, which is why they gained the status of one of the main favorites of the season, but so far they have not come close to meeting expectations. Wards of Oleg Znarka demonstrate not the most spectacular hockey, and recently they have stopped scoring points regularly. As a result, rumors began to appear in the media about the possible resignation of the head coach, but in reality the situation developed differently. Two days before the match with Neftekhimik, one of the team leaders and part-time top scorer Alexander Radulov was removed from the squad.
The transfer of the striker to the reserve three was commented by the mentor himself. He did not disclose the exact reasons for his decision, but stressed that similar sanctions could be applied to any athlete.
“Radulov is still in a non-playing squad. There are reasons for that. We no longer have untouchables, ”RIA Novosti quotes Znark.
It is not so easy to explain Radulov’s link to the reserve by playing moments. Of course, at 36, he is no longer as good as when he played for Salavat Yulaev and CSKA, as well as in the first seasons for the Dallas Stars, when he did not fall below the mark of 72 points for the regular season. But at the level of the current Ak Bars, he still remains one of the strongest performers, as evidenced by the statistics.
Alexander takes first place in the team in points (15), goals (eight) and winning goals (two), and in assists is second only to Kirill Semyonov and Stanislav Galiyev (both eight each). Yes, you can point to the forward’s negative utility (“-1”), but in comparison with partners, it does not seem so depressing. For example, Dmitry Kagarlitsky has “-4” in his liability, and the star Vadim Shipachev has even more (“-6”).
Recently, Radulov has been far from being as productive as at the start of the championship. In ten meetings, he scored only four (2 + 2) points with a utility index of “-7” and fell out of the top scorers of the KHL race. This coincided with an unsuccessful period of Kazan, during which they suffered nine defeats. However, it is hardly worth blaming Radulov alone for the troubles of Ak Bars. With the same Shipachyov, although the team conceded less, Vadim was also extremely ineffective (1 + 2).
Yes, Radulov can be criticized for his intemperance. In total, he has already spent a whole period on the penalty box and is in the top 20 most undisciplined forwards in the league. But the management of Ak Bars probably took this into account when they invited him. Alexander has always been famous for his uncompromising and intransigence in the fight, for which he was nicknamed the Tasmanian Devil. And in this regard, it was hardly worth waiting for changes.
Based on this, we can conclude that the transfer of a hockey player to the reserve is not due solely to sports reasons. For example, the case may be in a possible conflict with the coach, as reported by the Match TV source. As the interlocutor of the TV channel recalled, friction between Radulov and Znark appeared back in 2016, when the attacker missed the training camp of the national team on the eve of the World Cup and went to negotiate with NHL clubs in the United States. As a result, Alexander did not perform at the home tournament, and subsequently he never again wore the sweater of the Russian national team.
Perhaps that is why in the summer Znarok was more interested in signing Dmitry Yashkin, and not Radulov, and subsequently did not appoint him as captain. One of the symbols of the “leopards” Danis Zaripov received an honorary status, but for various reasons he played less than half of the meetings. In his absence, the leadership function was entrusted to Shipachyov.
“It hurt Radulov that he was made only an assistant – and he began to behave defiantly. I did not communicate with Vadim, I got into a fight in training with Alexander Burmistrov. Znarok took the side of Shipachev. Pay attention, because of this conflict, he no longer puts Shipachev and Radulov in one link. And now Oleg brought Alexander out of the squad for the next match. Apparently, things are moving towards the exchange of Radulov, ”concluded the source.
However, the striker’s agent Yuri Nikolaev did not confirm the information about the disagreements between Radulov and Znark. According to him, the transfer of a hockey player to the reserve is just a coaching decision and this story should not be inflated.
“Look at the results of Ak Bars – apparently, the coaching staff decides something, thinks. I don’t want to get into this coaching path, ”Nikolaev admitted.
At the same time, the media do not exclude that in the end everything can come to the departure of Radulov from the capital of Tatarstan. In particular, they talk about a possible exchange of the forward to another KHL club, and Salavat Yulaev is called the main contender for it. For him, the striker played four seasons, and in 2011 he helped win the Gagarin Cup.
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It is noted that Ufa residents are able to pull Radulov’s expensive contract, according to which he will receive about 170 million rubles in two years, and Alexander himself may be interested in cooperation with Viktor Kozlov, with whom they are on good terms. There is a place for a potential beginner. Josh Ho-Sang was injured on his KHL debut and hasn’t been on the ice yet. Nevertheless, Salavat was quick to assure that they were not considering the option of inviting a two-time world champion.
“We are not negotiating about Alexander Radulov either with Ak Bars or with his agent,” Rinat Bashirov, general director of Ufa residents, told Sport-Express.
At the same time, in the situation with Radulov, most experts sided with Znark. Valery Kamensky, although surprised by this decision of the mentor, suggested that it was hardly taken from scratch. Agreed with him and the ex-player of “Dynamo” Sergey Konkov. In his opinion, the coach’s act was balanced, and the goal was to improve the situation in the team.
“We know Radulov as a lively, energetic and sometimes unpredictable person. It is possible that in everyday life he does some unexpected things … It is precisely in this that Znark’s difficulties, as a coach, in managing such a player lie. Apparently, something happened that forced the team’s management to remove their leader from the roster… Apparently, the significance of Znarok for the club turned out to be higher than that of Radulov. So far, Znarok remains, but I think that already with some conditions, ”said two-time Olympic champion Boris Mayorov.
In his opinion, this incident should be a signal for Radulov, who needs to think about his behavior. Indeed, otherwise, he may be labeled a problem player, which in the future may block his path to other clubs. Although the difficult nature of Alexander has long been known.
One way or another, while Radulov remains in the team and may well return to the clip in the near future. If we discard possible disagreements with the specialist, then the result of the confrontation with Neftekhimik may also be important. If Ak Bars demonstrates a good game and breaks a series of three failures, then Alexander’s “link” may well be delayed.