NASHVILLE, Tenn. - With the NHL and Russia's new Continental Hockey League in a dispute over Alexander Radulov, the forward says he wants to stay home and help grow the sport of hockey in his own country.
"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.
Radulov wrote the letter to KHL president Alexander Medvedev possibly to end some mixed signals on whether he wanted to return to the NHL.
"I have never been, nor am I currently, nor do I intend to hold negotiations with representatives of the National Hockey League or the International Ice Hockey Federation regarding the possibility of having the case of my transfer to the Kontinental Hockey League reviewed by the International Court of Sports Arbitration in Lausanne," his letter states.
Medvedev is in Alaska on business and was not available for comment.
NHL officials had not seen the letter, according to deputy commissioner Bill Daly. The Radulov case has not been set yet for arbitration, but Daly said they made some progress toward a date in a recent meeting in Switzerland.
Daly said they have not heard from the Russians despite repeated attempts through the IIHF. Daly said he had been told by the players' association that Radulov was ready to abide by an arbitrator's decision.
Paul Kelly, executive director of the NHL Players' Association, confirmed what Daly said.
"The NHLPA has been advised by a representative of the player that he will respect and abide by the final ruling in the arbitration of the dispute between the KHL and the NHL over his contractual status," Kelly said.
The Radulov case has been at the centre of a wider dispute between the NHL and Russia's new KHL over respecting players' contracts. Radulov signed a three-year deal in July with the KHL's Salavat Yulayev Ufa despite having a year left on his entry contract with the Nashville Predators.
His letter was dated Oct. 1, the same date the IIHF ruled that Radulov was wrong to sign with a club in his home country. The IIHF also said it couldn't suspend Radulov with no agreement in place dealing with international transfers.
"A player doesn't have a right to breach his contract, simply because he wants to return to his home country," Daly wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press.
The Predators had no comment Tuesday on Radulov's desire to stay in Russia.
They suspended Radulov indefinitely in September and have been letting the NHL handle the case. Radulov was their third-leading scorer last season, but they have won two of their first three games to start this season.