Former NHL legend Slava Fetisov is urging onlookers not to condemn Alex Radulov for considering a return to the National Hockey League after a three-year exile in the KHL.
Radulov, one of world hockey's brightest forwards, left the Nashville Predators in 2008 to join Salavat Yualev Ufa in Russia, garnering accusations of jumping contract with the NHL team.
Now, with Salavat Yulaev dumped out of the KHL playoffs, the 25-year-old is negotiating a return to Nashville, where he could see out the remainder of the NHL playoffs. He could then become a free agent with the opportunity to cash in on the hike in value he has achieved by taking the KHL by storm.
Some commentators in the United States are casting the move as a cynical ploy by Radulov secure a lucrative contract at the expense of loyalty and stability at Nashville, while back home observers criticize him for ditching Salavat Yulaev.
"Radulov can decide for himself what to do," Fetisov, a Hall of Famer as a former New Jersey Devils and Detroit Red Wings defenseman, told RIA Novosti.
"He was the first to have left there for here [the NHL for the KHL], he helped the KHL's image. We don't need to discuss who's right and who's wrong. And we shouldn't condemn Radulov," said Fetisov, now a politician in Russia.
Radulov, who won back-to-back MVP awards in 2010 and 2011, has hit 25 goals in 50 games for Salavat Yulaev this season.
His agent Yuri Nikolaev is known to be negotiating Radulov's departure from the team, which is reported to be exploring options to keep hold of the player. His contract expires April 30.