When the Nashville Predators make a three-game swing through Ontario and Quebec, both J.P. Dumont and Alexander Radulov
will take brief detours to be honored by the junior teams they led as teenagers.
First up is Radulov. On Nov. 28, he will head to Quebec City where the Quebec Remparts will retire his No. 47 jersey. The Nizhni Tagil, Russia native was dominant in his stint with head coach Patrick Roy’s squad from 2004-06, winning the prestigious Memorial Cup in 2006.
|Radulov racked up 61 goals and 152 points in just 62 contests in 2005-06. |
“I am looking forward to seeing my billet (host family), the coaches, my friends, and just spending the day back there,” Radulov said. “When they raise my jersey number to the rafters, it is going to be a special moment that I will never forget.”
His 2005-06 season was one of the most prolific in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League history – he registered 61 goals and 152 points in just 62 games. Not only was Radulov voted the QMJHL’s most valuable player and Memorial Cup MVP, but was named Canadian Major Junior Player of the Year as well.
“Probably winning a Memorial Cup there was my best moment, but I remember everything from the first day I arrived,” he said. “I played there for two years and it was unbelievable. I remember all the good things, and all the guys on my team because it was such a positive experience.”
Upon arriving in Quebec at 17 years old, the now-Preds winger was shocked at how different the game was in Canada compared to his homeland. A smaller rink demands a more North-South style of play, so Radulov had to reinvent his game.
“The way the people play hockey here is different than what I was used to in Russia,” he said. “Everything was just going step-by-step. I learned English, I learned better hockey sense, and learned how to be a North American player while I was in Quebec.”
Radulov’s two years in Quebec City were about more than just playing hockey though. It was there he learned two new languages and adapted to a different culture, all while living away from home for the first time.
“It was tough when I first arrived because it was the first time I had been to North America,” Radulov said. “It was a different life and I didn’t have my parents or my friends, plus I couldn’t really speak English. The first couple months were tough, but I fought through that and it worked out well.”
Four nights later, Dumont will travel to the western Quebec town of Val-d’Or, for special recognition by his junior team, the Val-d’Or Foreurs. For four seasons (1994-98) in the “Valley of Gold,” as the town’s name translates to English, Dumont tore it up for the “Miners,” racking up 331 points in 231 games.
“It is a great honor – I was there for four years and it was a big part of my life,” Dumont said. “That is where I started to develop, and if I wouldn’t have played there I don’t know if I would be where I am today. It is a great city, a great atmosphere, and it will be quite an honor to go back.”
Dumont blossomed into a star in his second season in Val-d’Or, and averaged 1.7 points per game in his final three seasons of juniors. He capped his amateur career off by leading the 1997-98 Foreurs to a league title, sweeping the Rimouski Océanic in four games in the finals. Dumont was sensational during the 19-game playoff run, establishing a record for most goals in the playoffs with 31.
|Dumont (left) with junior teammates Roberto Luongo (second from left), and other Val-d'or teammates. |
“Winning the President’s Cup my last year there was my most memorable moment,” he said “It was something that was special to share with both my teammates and the city.”
Playing junior hockey was also the first time Dumont had lived away from home, but despite a 12-hour roundtrip to see home games, his parents were more than willing to make the drive. Coming from his hometown of Montreal, they never missed a game. It will therefore be particularly special that his mother and father, along with his wife Kristin and two daughters Ella and Ava will be there with him for the festivities.
“I am going to get to have my parents, my wife and kids there, and it is going to be all the more special to have them to stand on the ice with me to be recognized by the city, the team and the fans.”
Both ceremonies were planned this summer, in conjunction with Nashville’s games against the Ottawa Senators on Nov. 29, and the Montreal Canadiens on Dec. 2. It will be the team’s first visit to ScotiaBank Place and the Bell Centre since the 2003-04 season.