Agent: Penguins star Malkin 'wishes always to remain in Pittsburgh'
Evgeni Malkin never entertained thoughts about playing for an NHL team other than the Penguins, his agent said Tuesday.
J.P. Barry told the Tribune-Review negotiations with the Penguins for Malkin's contract were “super smooth because both sides wanted to get something done quickly.”
Malkin agreed to an eight-year, $76 million (total) contract in June — within days of the Penguins' season-ending loss to Boston in the Eastern Conference final. The deal kicks in after the upcoming season.
Negotiations with the Penguins did not include Malkin's parents, Vladimir and Natalia.
A report Monday from the Russia newspaper Sovietsky Sport quoted Vladimir Malkin saying negotiations with the Penguins were difficult and that his son had considered playing for other teams — including the Dallas Stars, New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens.
Vladimir Malkin, in the Russian report, also said Dallas made his son a more lucrative offer. The Stars issued a statement Tuesday denying they made an offer to a player under contract for another team, which would have placed them in violation of anti-tampering rules. The NHL is not looking into potential tampering by Dallas or other clubs.
Evgeni Malkin, in a text message, reiterated Tuesday a previous statement that he desired “only to play for Pittsburgh,” where he is building a home.
Also, there were no discussions about joining Dallas between Malkin and his best friend, Sergei Gonchar, Gonchar said. The Stars acquired Gonchar several weeks before Malkin agreed to his new deal with the Penguins.
In January, Gonchar told the Tribune-Review that he — if asked — would advise Malkin that staying with the Penguins was best because of Malkin's comfort with the organization and city.
Two days after the Penguins were eliminated from the playoffs June 7, Malkin told Barry he hoped for a quick resolution to contract negotiations. Barry said he, Malkin and Gennady Ushakov — Malkin's longtime Russian associate — met June 10 with Penguins general manager Ray Shero, CEO David Morehouse and majority co-owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle, and Malkin later met privately by himself with those members of the Penguins brass.
The contract was finalized late in the evening June 12 and announced the next day. It includes a no-movement clause.
“The negotiations with Pittsburgh went very smoothly,” Barry said. “Ray Shero, David Morehouse, Ron Burkle and Mario Lemieux showed a willingness throughout to find a fair structure for both sides. Evgeni was very pleased that this negotiation was concluded amicably as his wishes were always to remain in Pittsburgh.”
Malkin, a two-time NHL scoring champion and former MVP of the regular season and playoffs, is in Moscow, where he spends his offseasons. He is slated to return to Pittsburgh in early September in advance of training camp.
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