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Evgeni Malkin, affectionately known as 'Geno', is an Alternate Captain for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Escape from Russia Edit

Evgeni Malkin never made it a secret that he wanted to play in the NHL. At nineteen, he was widely considered the best player in the world not already playing in the NHL,[1] and what should have been his first season with the Pittsburgh Penguins was derailed when the league went into a season-long lockout. Malkin remained in Russia and with his home team, Metallurg Magnitogorsk, with the intention of making his move to the NHL the following year. But when the Russian Hockey Federation refused to ratify a transfer agreement between the NHL and the International Ice Hockey Federation, which would have seen the NHL--from a collective fund that all thirty teams contribute to[2]--pay a $200,000 compensation fee to Metallurg, Malkin was forced to honour his existing contract with the team and missed the 2005-2006 NHL season.[3] Metallurg, having invested in Malkin's hockey development since he was six years old, paying for equipment, hockey school and junior leagues, felt a $200,000 compensation fee was far too little and demanded a $2 million compensation instead. As explained by then-general manager Gennady Velichkin:

"It's kind of like a factory here. We take 100 boys when they're 6, and when they're teens maybe 25 are left. We're taking sand and trying to find gold inside. And that isn't easy."[4]
Metallurg promised that Malkin would be free to leave after the 2005-2006 season. Malkin, at the behest of his then-agent Don Meehan, faxed the team his resignation in June 2006, stating that he was exercising his right under Russian labour law to terminate his contract with two weeks' notice. Two days later,[5] Malkin was summoned to a meeting with Velichkin and his assistant, "Mr. Kuprianov," and asked if he was aware of the letter of resignation. When Malkin confirmed that he was and reiterated his desire to terminate his contract, Velichkin said he wouldn't let Malkin resign from Metallurg and made clear that he was going to ignore the notice. Velichkin tore the letter into pieces, and threw the pieces into the trash can in his office. He warned Malkin to keep the meeting "strictly confidential", and that he was not tell anyone that Velichkin had destroyed his letter of resignation.

From around mid-July through 7 August, Malkin attended almost daily meetings with Velichkin and Mr. Kuprianov, and was told during one of these that Metallurg would surrender his rights only if the NHL paid the $2 million compensation fee. Malkin, however, always gave the same response:

"I explained that I did not want to sign a new contract with Metallurg because I had already resigned and I intended to play in the NHL for the Penguins during the 2006-07 season. Mr. Velichkin refused to accept my decision or to honor his promise to me."
Meanwhile, Malkin's parents were getting frequent calls from Velichkin. During a dinner in early August, Velichkin tried another tactic, discussing the boons they could benefit from if Malkin signed a new contract, such as a VIP suite at the arena, or Malkin's father (who used to play for Metallurg) dropping the puck on opening night.[6]

At some point in early August, Malkin fired Meehan as his agent and re-hired J.P. Barry and Pat Brisson, who had represented him for years already before Malkin let them go in favour of Meehan in June.[7] On Sunday 6 August, at about 9 p.m., Malkin, his parents, and Gennady Ushakov--a Russian representative of Barry's firm--met with Velichkin, Mr. Kuprianov, and the owner of the team Viktor Rashnikov, at one of Rashnikov's offices about thirty minutes outside of Magnitogorsk. Rashnikov considered the meeting so important that he chartered a jet to return from a vacation in Western Europe. Malkin's agent, Barry, advised Malkin not to go "as he would be in an isolated environment and subject to immense pressure."

When the meeting first started, the team officials presented Malkin with a one-year contract offer worth $3.45 million, which was the most Malkin could earn in salary and bonuses with the Penguins. According to Malkin, the team officials "demanded" that he accepted the offer:

"They said that if I did not sign the new contract, no one in Magnitogorsk would want to speak with me, and that this was not how I wanted to live. Mr. Kuprianov then said they could have taken steps to have me conscripted into the Russian army, but had not done so. I understood that Mr. Velichkin was referring to how powerful the club was and what they could do to me if I did not sign the new contract. Other Russian hockey teams have found ways to have players who wanted to leave to play in the NHL conscripted into the Russian military."
When the Malkins and Ushakov tried to leave after about ninety minutes, the session spilled out into the parking lot, before it was picked up again at the Malkin residence. Malkin said Velichkin and Mr. Kuprianov followed them home, while Velichkin claimed they were invited because that's where the family had its copy of the new contract he had worked out with Ushakov. According to Mrs. Malkin, this is what actually happened:
"Mr. Velichkin spoke to us in the driveway for another twenty or thirty minutes. I did not invite him in because we were extremely tired and I did not want to speak with Mr. Velichkin any further. Finally, Mr. Velichkin said that we should invite him in. We did not think that we could refuse."
At around 2:30 a.m. on 7 August 2006, Malkin finally signed a one-year contract with Metallurg.[8] By then, Malkin was emotionally spent, having been through almost six hours of Velichkin and other Metallurg officials pushing the buttons on his responsibility to the team and the national team. They told him that if he stayed in Russia, it would speed up the transfer agreement with the NHL and make better conditions for the Russian hockey federation. They kept repeating that he was a key player in the country, and he meant so much for the team and the Russian federation. They told him: "'You cannot let the national team down. You have to stay for one more year, because everyone keeps so much hope for you.'"[9] Malkin suffered through hours of Velichkin repeatedly insisting and yelling that he had to sign the contract until he couldn't take it anymore:
"I was mentally and physically exhausted, and I just wanted Mr. Velichkin and Mr. Kuprianov to leave me and my family alone."
Malkin, who was barely twenty years old at the time, immediately regretted signing the contract, and was extremely upset. At some point after having signed, he sent Mr. Kuprianov a text saying that, "On this night, you killed my dream."[10]

That morning, after the team officials had left, Malkin called Barry to explain what had happened and asked him to help him get out of his contract.[11] Barry and Malkin came up with a plan. They were going to need Malkin's passport, which was temporarily in the custody of Malkin's former Russian agent Sergei Isakov, in connection with acquiring a Canadian visa. Shortly after Malkin was pressured into signing the new contract, Isakov handed his passport over to Velichkin, who confiscated it and refused to give it back.[12]

Believing he was intending to stay with the club, and realising he'd need his passport to get through customs, the club returned Malkin's passport when on Saturday 12 August 2006, he flew with his team to Helsinki, Finland, for a pre-season camp. When they reached the airport, Malkin excused himself for a bathroom break, and through the chaos of passport control and baggage claim, his teammates didn't notice he was missing until they were leaving the airport.[13] Following the plan, Malkin secretly met with Barry and interpreter Olga McQueen (a Canadian with Russian heritage)[14] at the airport. Assisted by a Finnish security company, Malkin, Barry, and McQueen snuck out of the airport and relocated to an apartment where they stayed hidden for four days while waiting for Malkin's American visa from the US Embassy.[15] Barry would later say that he wasn't so much afraid for Malkin's safety as he was worried that Metallurg would try to get Malkin back if they found out where he was:

"We were worried that whenever there's a mystery and someone can't be found, they would try to look for him and if they could find him, they would try to continue the psychological pressure. We didn't want that to happen. It was really necessary for us to keep him away from that possibility."
According to Barry, the type of psychological pressure included the club having Malkin followed whenever the team believed he'd been in contact with his North-American agents, though Barry couldn't say who exactly had been following his client.[16]

On Monday 14 August, Malkin and Barry faxed Metallurg another two weeks' notice.[17] On Wednesday 16 August, the visa came through and Malkin, Barry, and McQueen traveled to New York and then Los Angeles.[18] Malkin spent about three weeks training in Los Angeles before arriving in Pittsburgh on Monday 4 September 2006.[19]

Malkin kept his plan to leave Russia and Metallurg a secret from everyone but Barry. Initially, it was believed that not even his parents, his older brother Denis, or his Russian representative Ushakov knew about it,[20] but in a documentary from 2016, Malkin revealed that he told his mother but that they didn't tell his father because they thought he would be worried.[21]

Malkin has said the following about his decision to leave:

“It was very hard. I did not want to leave my family in a difficult situation, and I was not sure then if I could ever go home again. But my dream was to play in the NHL. I love my home (Magnitogorsk), but in my heart I wanted to be in Pittsburgh playing against the best hockey players.”[22]
“I was not scared to come to America. I was scared what my friends would think of me. I love Russia. It is my country, my home. It was a tough time. But I had a dream, and that was to play for the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL.”[23]

Early Years In Pittsburgh Edit

Moving from Russia to Pittsburgh was a difficult transition for Malkin. Helping him adjust to his new life in an American city was George Birman, "a kind, soft-spoken man working in the Pens ticket office, physically the polar opposite of the guy his teammates dubbed 'Geno.'" Birman, himself arriving from Russia to the States in 1991, became an "integral part" of Malkin's life. He helped with things like securing a driver's license, and also served as his interpreter.[24]

Philanthropy Edit

Locomotiv Yaroslavl Edit

  • The Lokomotiv Yaroslavl air disaster occurred on 7 September 2011. Geno was deeply affected[25], having lost many friends and former teammates in the crash.[26] Geno reached out to Ovie (Alex Ovechkin) to work together to see how they could help the affected families. In their 13 Oct 2011 game at PPG Paints Arena (previously CONSOL Energy Center), the Pens and Caps wore jerseys with commemorative Lokomotiv patches which were then autographed and auctioned off with all the proceeds going to Lokomotiv players’ children and families. [27] 
  • On 13 November 2011, Geno hosted the "Flight Team Lokomotiv Benefit” along with Big Dreams Children’s Foundation. The benefit raised money for the families of the Lokomotiv plane crash victims.[28][29] 

Big Dreams Children's Foundation Edit

  • Geno is also a sponsor for Big Dreams Children's Foundation[30], founded by Ksenia Gonchar and Lena McMahan.

От чистого сердца “From a Pure Heart” Edit

  • Geno participates yearly [2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016] in the hockey charity game program “From a Pure Heart” ("От чистого сердца") started by Ilya Kovalchuk in 2010.  2013 gave us the priceless video "Евгений Малкин дерется с 7-летним пацаном (Evgeny Malkin fights 7 year old kid). [31]

Malkin Charity Suite Edit

  • Geno sponsors a charity suite at the PPG Paints Arena (previously Consol Energy Center) 
  • Description from Pens Foundation[32]: Crosby & Malkin Charity Suites - Since 2008, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have each purchased a luxury suite for local youth to enjoy the excitement of Penguins hockey. During the 2015-16 season, each player hosted over 25 different charitable organizations in his suite - each with an emphasis on children who are coping with difficult health issues, economic or family challenges. Suite guests all received a special gift from their host player along with a visit from team mascot Iceburgh. 

Others Edit

  • Geno's kindness has often been noted - he is especially generous towards those from his hometown and appears to support at least one orphanage [33][34][35][36]

Injuries Edit

  • Malkin has a scar on the left side of his cheek after being cut by the skate of Brandon Dubinksy.
  • On Monday 17 October 2016 in a game vs the Avalance, Malkin took a stick to his face and injured his lip.
Malkin split lip

TriviaEdit

  • Has a tattoo of his son Nikita on his left ribcage. The tattoo took 5 hours to finish.
  • Enjoys playing chess.[37]
  • Changed his sticks often enough that the Dana Heinze/staff use both 'Gino' and 'Geno' on his sticks to tell the difference [38][39][40]

Timeline of Playing Career Edit

Season Team GP G A P PIM
2002-2003 Metallurg Magnitogorsk 2
2002-2003 2003 IIHF World U18 Championships (RUS) 6 5 4 9 2
2003-2004 u18 Junior World Cup (RUS) 4 2 2 4
2003-2004 Metallurg Magnitogorsk 2 2 1 0 1 8
2003-2004 Metallurg Magnitogorsk 34 3 9 12 12
2003-2004 2004 IIHF World U18 Championships (RUS) 6 1 4 5
2003-2004 2004 World Junior Championships (RUS) 6 4 4 8 31
2004-2005 Metallurg Magnitogorsk 2 2 1 1 2 2
2004-2005 Metallurg Magnitogorsk 52 12 20 32 24
2004-2005 2005 World Junior Championships (RUS) 6 3 7 10 16
2004-2005 2005 World Championships (RUS) 9 0 4 4 8
2005-2006 Metallurg Magnitogorsk 46 21 26 47 46
2005-2006 2006 World Junior Championships (RUS) 6 4 6 10 12
2005-2006 2006 Winter Olympics (RUS) 7 2 4 6 31
2005-2006 2006 World Championships (RUS) 7 3 6 9 6
2006-2007 Pittsburgh Penguins 78 33 52 85 80
2006-2007 2007 World Championships (RUS) 9 5 5 10 6
2007-2008 Pittsburgh Penguins 82 47 59 106 78
2008-2009 Pittsburgh Penguins 82 35 78 113 80
2009-2010 Pittsburgh Penguins 67 28 49 77 100
2009-2010 2010 Winter Olympics (RUS) 4 3 3 6
2009-2010 2010 World Championships (RUS) 5 5 2 7 10
2010-2011 Pittsburgh Penguins 43 15 22 37 18
2011-2012 Pittsburgh Penguins 75 50 59 109 70
2011-2012 2012 World Championships (RUS) 10 11 8 19 4
2012-2013 Metallurg Magnitogorsk 37 23 42 65 58
2012-2013 Pittsburgh Penguins 31 9 24 33 36
2013-2014 Pittsburgh Penguins 60 23 49 72 62
2013-2014 2014 Winter Olympics 5 1 2 3 2
2013-2014 2014 World Championships (RUS) 4 2 1 3 2
2014-2015 Pittsburgh Penguins 69 28 42 70 60
2014-2015 2015 World Championships (RUS) 9 5 5 10 8
2015-2016 Pittsburgh Penguins 57 27 31 58 65
2015-2016 2016 World Cup (RUS) 4 1 2 3 2
2016-2017 Pittsburgh Penguins 62 33 39 72 77
2017-2018 Pittsburgh Penguins 78 42 56 98 87

Team Result Edit

Season Team Place Medal Trophy Playoffs
2002-2003 2003 IIHF World U18 Championships (RUS) 3rd Bronze
2003-2004 u18 Junior World Cup (RUS) 2nd Silver
2003-2004 Metallurg Magnitogorsk 2
2003-2004 Metallurg Magnitogorsk
2003-2004 2004 IIHF World U18 Championships (RUS) 1st Gold
2003-2004 2004 World Junior Championships (RUS) 5th
2004-2005 Metallurg Magnitogorsk 2
2004-2005 Metallurg Magnitogorsk
2004-2005 2005 World Junior Championships (RUS) 2nd Silver
2004-2005 2005 World Championships (RUS) 3rd Bronze
2005-2006 Metallurg Magnitogorsk
2005-2006 2006 World Junior Championships (RUS) 2nd Silver
2005-2006 2006 Winter Olympics (RUS) 4th
2005-2006 2006 World Championships (RUS) 5th
2006-2007 Pittsburgh Penguins 10th
2006-2007 2007 World Championships (RUS) 3rd Silver
2007-2008 Pittsburgh Penguins 4th Prince of Wales Trophy Final round
2008-2009 Pittsburgh Penguins 8th Prince of Wales Trophy Stanley Cup
2009-2010 Pittsburgh Penguins 8th
2009-2010 2010 Winter Olympics (RUS) 6th
2009-2010 2010 World Championships (RUS) 2nd Silver
2010-2011 Pittsburgh Penguins 4th
2011-2012 Pittsburgh Penguins 4th
2011-2012 2012 World Championships (RUS) 1st Gold
2012-2013 Metallurg Magnitogorsk
2012-2013 Pittsburgh Penguins 2nd Conference final
2013-2014 Pittsburgh Penguins 6th 2nd round
2013-2014 2014 Winter Olympics 5th
2013-2014 2014 World Championships (RUS) 1st Gold
2014-2015 Pittsburgh Penguins 15th 1st round
2014-2015 2015 World Championships (RUS) 2nd Silver
2015-2016 Pittsburgh Penguins 4th Prince of Wales Trophy Stanley Cup
2015-2016 2016 World Cup (RUS) 4th
2016-2017 Pittsburgh Penguins 2nd Prince of Wales Trophy Stanley Cup
2017-2018 Pittsburgh Penguins 10 2nd round

References Edit

  1. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/14/AR2006081400733.html
  2. http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/penguins/2006/09/05/Malkin-arrives-in-Pittsburgh-will-sign-with-Penguins-today/stories/200609050135
  3. http://bleacherreport.com/articles/117829-the-great-malkin-the-most-overlooked-superstar-in-the-nhl
  4. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2006-09-14/news/0609140109_1_metallurg-russian-hockey-russian-nhl
  5. http://www.russianprospects.com/public/article.php?article_id=473
  6. http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/penguins/2006/11/26/Two-tales-of-Malkin-s-pact-with-Russians/stories/200611260149
  7. http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/hockey/nhl/penguins/2006-08-07-malkin-agent_x.htm
  8. http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/penguins/2006/11/26/Two-tales-of-Malkin-s-pact-with-Russians/stories/200611260149
  9. http://articles.latimes.com/2006/aug/23/sports/sp-malkin23
  10. http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/penguins/2006/11/26/Two-tales-of-Malkin-s-pact-with-Russians/stories/200611260149
  11. http://www.russianprospects.com/public/article.php?article_id=472
  12. http://www.russianprospects.com/public/article.php?article_id=473
  13. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2006-09-14/news/0609140109_1_metallurg-russian-hockey-russian-nhl
  14. http://articles.latimes.com/2006/aug/23/sports/sp-malkin23
  15. http://triblive.com/sports/penguins/2626458-85/malkin-magnitogorsk-barry-nhl-hockey-club-contract-evgeni-russian-arena
  16. http://www.espn.com/nhl/news/story?id=2574012
  17. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/malkins-russian-team-cries-foul/article967632/
  18. http://triblive.com/sports/penguins/2626458-85/malkin-magnitogorsk-barry-nhl-hockey-club-contract-evgeni-russian-arena
  19. http://www.espn.com/nhl/news/story?id=2574012
  20. http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/olympicfeatures/2014/02/09/Evgeni-Malkin-A-Russian-tale-with-roots-founded-in-ice-and-iron/stories/201402090133
  21. https://youtu.be/twZ4-ptwHTk?t=2389
  22. http://triblive.com/sports/penguins/2626458-85/malkin-magnitogorsk-barry-nhl-hockey-club-contract-evgeni-russian-arena
  23. http://www.pittsburghmagazine.com/Pittsburgh-Magazine/December-2011/Evgeni-Malkin-Will-Speak-to-You-Now/
  24. http://www.sportsnet.ca/magazine/evgeni-malkin-revealing-the-nhls-most-mysterious-superster/
  25. http://www.pensburgh.com/2011/9/10/2416032/with-a-heavy-heart-evgeni-malkin-talks-about-the-yaroslavl-lokomotiv
  26. https://www.nhl.com/penguins/news/another-side-of-geno/c-627039
  27. https://www.nhl.com/penguins/news/penguins-capitals-team-up-to-benefit-families-of-khl-team-lost-in-plane-crash-at-oct-13-game-at-consol-energy-center/c-594278 
  28. http://triblive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_767160.html
  29. http://www.bigdreamscf.org/news-1/2015/8/23/fundraiser-a-huge-success
  30. http://www.bigdreamscf.org/sponsors
  31. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvMLmS_Kze4
  32. http://pittsburghpenguinsfoundation.org/program/community-efforts/
  33. http://www.sport-express.ru/hockey/nhl/news/malkin-otkryl-specialnuyu-stranicu-dlya-vedeniya-blagotvoritelnoy-deyatelnosti-1027092/
  34. http://penguins.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=494879
  35. http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/olympicfeatures/2014/02/09/Evgeni-Malkin-A-Russian-tale-with-roots-founded-in-ice-and-iron/stories/201402090133
  36. http://ktheunready.tumblr.com/post/148476470129/it-seems-to-me-that-not-enough-people-know-about
  37. http://www.sportsnet.ca/magazine/evgeni-malkin-revealing-the-nhls-most-mysterious-superster/
  38. https://twitter.com/RealDanaHeinze/status/834120996869304321
  39. https://twitter.com/RealDanaHeinze/status/819328888090267648
  40. https://twitter.com/RealDanaHeinze/status/420716512815489024
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