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Malkin, others make plans for NHL lockout

| Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

NEW YORK — Reigning NHL scoring champion and MVP Evgeni Malkin will not be the only player to sign with a European-based team in the event of a lockout, Penguins NHLPA representative Craig Adams said.

“It's something I've heard discussed among players,” said Adams, who spent the 2004-05 NHL lockout playing for an Italian club.

Adams was one of 11 players in New York on Wednesday as the NHLPA worked to counter a proposal presented by the NHL on Tuesday. Union executive director Don Fehr said a response could be ready Thursday.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has said there will be a second lockout since 2004 if a new collective bargaining agreement is not reached before the Sept. 15 deadline.

Malkin and his closest friend, former Penguins defenseman Sergei Gonchar, started skating with Moscow's Kontinental Hockey League team Aug. 20. Both said they will play for the KHL club in Malkin's hometown, Magnitogorsk, if an NHL lockout stretched into the scheduled regular season, slated to open Oct. 11.

No other Penguins, including center Sidney Crosby, have plans yet to play for a European team in the event of a lockout.

Malkin and Gonchar would play on weekly contracts that would allow them to return to their NHL clubs when a new CBA is reached.

Malkin has not donned the Magnitogorsk crest since leaving that club in July 2006 during a training trip in Finland. Four days later, he arrived in North America to join the Penguins, who drafted him second overall in 2005.

Malkin spends his summers in Moscow, but his parents and older brother live in Magnitogorsk.

“There are no longer any hurt feelings,” Malkin said through a translator while in Moscow. “To play in front of my family, where I grew up, would be great excitement for everybody in Magnitogorsk.”

Malkin and Gonchar met while playing for the Magnitogorsk club during the 2004-05 season.

Gonchar said Malkin's possible homecoming would “hopefully be a reunion everybody would like.”

“I know Evgeni would look forward to it,” Gonchar said. “But of course we want to be playing NHL hockey on time.”

Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at rrossi@tribweb.com or 412-380-5635.

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