MONTREAL - Alexander Radulov is eagerly anticipating the arrival of his family in their brand new hockey home.
After touching down in Montreal on a flight from Moscow on August 20th, Radulov has been staying in touch with his wife Daria - a retired world-class rhythmic gymnast and Olympic silver-medalist - and nine-month-old son Makar with the help of smart phone technology. The pair remains in Russia where the veteran forward had been tearing up the KHL ranks for the last four years with CSKA Moscow before electing to return to North America and sign a one-year contract with the Canadiens on July 1st.
"Obviously, I already miss my family. I've been in Montreal for a couple of weeks without them. We'd spent so much time together in Russia before I came over. As soon as everything is ready, they'll come," said Radulov, who expects Daria and Makar to join him in Montreal just ahead of the start of training camp. "It will be nice [when they get here]. I was with my wife a lot when she was pregnant, and now having a child, I really miss him."
Admittedly, the seven-hour time difference between Montreal and the Russian capital makes things a little bit tough for the 30-year-old right-winger when it comes to scheduling some all-important FaceTime sessions with Daria and Makar back home, but they've found a way to make it all work around his current gym workout and on-ice practice schedule.
"The time is different, so it's quite hard. I'm practicing a lot right now, so when they're getting ready to go to bed, I talk to them and any other chance I get I do the same thing, too," said Radulov, who says Makar's reactions to seeing him on screen are quite entertaining. "He sees the picture and he sees me. He kind of gets lost a little bit because he's used to seeing me right beside him all the time. He touches the screen and rubs it. It's a lot of fun."
When his better half and first-born child arrive in town, Radulov already has a good idea of where he'll be taking them to spend some quality family time after being 7,000 kilometers apart for a whole month.
"The first place I want to bring them is to the zoo. I really want to bring my son there. I love taking a walk with him and showing him new things. He gets so excited. I'm always trying to do something with him to make him smile. It feels so good," shared Radulov, who also plans on hitting up another key tourist attraction with his family later on this month. "Old Montreal is so nice. We're going to spend some time there, especially around the water. We're going to have dinner there. It will be great to just be with them and show them around the city."
Fatherhood is certainly agreeing with Radulov, who has said time and again since joining the Canadiens that being a family man has brought about significant changes to his life, changes that he believes are key to his being in the position he's in right now - back in the NHL ranks for the first time since the 2011-12 campaign.
"Now that I have a child, I know that I have to take care of him in all aspects, especially when he's so young. I know he's going to grow fast and the time is going to go. I just want to live by example, try to do everything I can to keep my family happy, raise my son right and be a perfect dad. I think everybody wants that," explained Radulov, before expanding upon the overall impact Makar's birth has had on his life. "I'm learning something new almost every day. He's started walking a little bit with help and he's saying some words on his own. [Being a father] is the best feeling I've had."
Even though Makar is still very young, he could be making at least a few appearances at the Bell Centre with Daria to support his father this season. The former 15th overall selection of the Nashville Predators fondly recalls his wife bringing Makar to his first game in March when CSKA Moscow was in the midst of a postseason run all the way to the Gagarin Cup Finals.
"It was the second round of the playoffs [in March]. He was just five months old. My wife wanted to come to the game and she brought him. I was so happy to see him there. I actually scored a goal in that game. We lost, but there was something different about the game. It had a bit of a different feeling for me," recalled Radulov, referencing the 2-1 defeat to Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod at Moscow's Ice Palace. "When you have family sitting there and cheering for you, it makes you push even more."
Fortunately, his two biggest fans will be in Montreal soon enough and he can't wait to show them everything that this city has to offer.