Malkin has his priorities in place
Evgeni Malkin enjoys spending his summers in Moscow. He would have enjoyed this one a lot less had he returned to his offseason home before agreeing to a long-term contract with the Penguins.
There is a reason his new contract with the Penguins came together over a span of five days in early June.
General manager Ray Shero wanted a deal done so that he could move onto negotiations with players such as Pascal Dupuis and Kris Letang. Also, Malkin (like Shero) anticipated the inevitable arm twisting by Russian friends – a group that includes mostly hockey players and entertainers but also influential private businessmen and public officials – for Malkin to stay home and sign a lucrative, tax-free deal with the Kontinental Hockey League.
When in Russia, intimidation is a powerful motivator. In July 2006, Malkin was pressured into signing a new contract with Metallurg Magnitogorsk after club officials refused to leave his parents' house. Ultimately, agent J.P. Barry legally broke that deal and helped his client get to Pittsburgh, but the experience permanently scarred Malkin's psyche.
He felt taken advantage of, and he feared for possible repercussions against his parents, Vladimir and Natalia, and brother, Denis. Malkin said he decided then that he would never put himself or his loved ones in a similar situation.
He spent the NHL lockout playing for Metallurg Magnitogorsk, and described the experience as “good.” However, he did not enjoy the attention of being one of his country's greatest athletes playing at home, and he also did not favor the challenging travel and outdated practice methods that were part of Russian hockey.
Upon returning to Pittsburgh in January, Malkin decided he would sign with the Penguins for as long as the NHL labor contract would allow – even if that meant taking less money than the $15 to $20 million per season that friends told him was available in the KHL.
Also upon returning to Pittsburgh, Malkin insisted that Denis join his parents on their annual visit from Magnitogorsk. After all, nobody in Russia could get to Denis if he was in Pittsburgh when Malkin negotiated his deal with the Penguins.
Malkin has said that all Russian-born NHL players “love (our) country very much.” He also stressed that not every Russian is “like” Ilya Kovalchuk, who on Thursday retired from the NHL with 12 years and $77 million remaining on his contract with New Jersey.
Kovalchuk is a close friend to Malkin, and he is revered by other Russian stars, including Washington's Alex Ovechkin. Unlike Malkin and Ovechkin, though, Kovalchuk has long hinted – and over the past year publicly stated – that he would prefer to play hockey at home.
The Devils have decided to let him do exactly that, freeing him to sign with a KHL club.
Malkin's new contract is his third in the NHL, and he has already made about $47.5 million on previous deals.
If ever there was a time to choose playing hockey at home, this summer was it. Instead, Malkin reiterated his oft-stated desire to play “with (the) best players in (the) NHL,” re-signed with the Penguins and started the process of building a lavish house near Sewickley.
“Evgeni told me he didn't want to go back to Moscow without getting this done with Pittsburgh,” Barry said last month. “For a lot of reasons — and think about what Evgeni has gone through — it was in everybody's best interest to get something done quickly.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Zatkoff’s, Malkin’s heroics not enough as Oilers down Penguins in shootout
- Penguins lose hard-fought game to Blue Jackets in overtime
- Penguins co-owner Lemieux snuffs rumored rift with Crosby
- Penguins 4th line is showing promise
- Penguins notebook: Dupuis’ intangibles provide 1st-line value
- Starkey: Farewell to NHL fighting
- Dumoulin-Lovejoy combo emerges as Penguins’ go-to defensive tandem
- Penguins notebook: Optional practice yields unusual defensemen demographic
- Hard-hitting Penguins veteran winger Kunitz is last of a dying breed
- Occupying playoff spot on Thanksgiving good harbinger for Penguins
- Crosby scores twice, Malkin delivers OT goal as Penguins beat Blues