Malkin's success a source of pride for Russian educator
Nearly 14 years have passed since Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin occupied a desk in Olga Pelikh's classroom, but it doesn't appear that much has changed.
“He had a lot of fun and made a lot of jokes,” Pelikh said through a translator, Andrey Belousov. “But he was actually very well-organized and a good student.”
Pelikh saw plenty of Malkin's personality — a mix between silly and serious — when she taught Malkin and served as his classroom adviser when he was 13 and 14 years old.
Pelikh, who was visiting Pittsburgh with Russian educators to tour the Hampton Township School District, said students would often copy Malkin's homework because they knew it was done correctly.
Pelikh is also from Magnitogorsk, Malkin's hometown, and was one of 50 who traveled here.
The World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh organized the trip to help Pelikh and her peers learn about pre-12 education in the United States, how nonprofits and vocational-technical schools can contribute to learning and to potentially create partnerships.
Though she follows Malkin's career, Pelikh had not talked to him since his hockey training took him away from her school, which Belousov said was called College No. 13.
The group, in town Monday through Saturday before traveling to Washington, D.C., did not plan on attending the Penguins' game Thursday at Consol Energy Center against the Vancouver Canucks.
Pelikh said, though, that many in the party carry quiet pride in what Malkin, 28, has accomplished: a Stanley Cup, two scoring titles and a playoff MVP, among many accolades.
“We follow his career,” Pelikh said again through Belousov. “We're very happy for him. But we are very shy about it. We don't brag.”
Pelikh said she would love to strike up a relationship with Malkin, to potentially have him speak to one of her classes if he's ever available.
Another thing that struck Pelikh about the school-aged Malkin was how mature he was.
If there was a trip, a hockey practice or tournament or an after-school activity, Malkin rarely relied on his parents, Vladimir and Natalia, to get around.
“He always took care of things on his own, even at that age,” Pelikh said. “When he needed to go somewhere, his hockey coaches wouldn't have to call his parents. He would take care of the organization of all the trips.”