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After Kovalchuk retirement, Malkin calls NHL ‘my priority’

Aug 1, 2013, 10:00 PM EDT

MalkinKovalchuk

If there was ever any thought Evgeni Malkin might leave the National Hockey League for a return to Russia, he wiped it out on Thursday.

“Why would I look for something else? I have everything,” Malkin told Russian news outlet R-Sport. “[The NHL is] my priority.”

The 27-year-old Pittsburgh star was asked about his future after fellow Russian Ilya Kovalchuk stunned the league by retiring at age 30, with 14 years and $77 million remaining on his deal with the Devils.

Many suggested Kovalchuk was the latest, albeit highest-profile, example of the Russian exodus.

Winnipeg’s Alex Burmistrov also returned to Russia this summer, as did Nashville’s Sergei Kostitsyn (though, to be accurate, Kostistyn is Belarusian and returned to the KHL — not his home country.) Ruslan Fedotenko, who is Ukrainian, left the NHL to sign with HC Donbass, a KHL team located in his native country.

Malkin wanted to make one thing abundantly clear: Kovalchuk’s retirement wasn’t indicative of any trend, but rather a unique development.

“Ilya’s chosen this path, and I’ve got no right to judge him,” he explained. “They’re saying that this will become a trend, but it’s really an exception to the rule.”

Player agent Mark Gandler — who represents Burmistrov — earlier echoed Malkin’s sentiment, saying each decision is made independently and has nothing to do with an overall trend.

“I don’t think it’s an epidemic or anything like that,” Gandler told the Canadian Press. “I think each person makes his decision based on the circumstances that he’s in, based on his environment, his family, his upbringing.”

  1. bmscalise - Aug 1, 2013 at 10:15 PM

    Geno ))))))

  2. dirt2013 - Aug 1, 2013 at 10:46 PM

    Malkin likes the fact that after the game Sid does the talking / gets the attention.

  3. blackandyellow71 - Aug 1, 2013 at 11:41 PM

    I think there’s something to be said for the way Pittsburgh has welcomed Geno and his family and treated them so well, As compared to the wasteland around the Prudential Center in NJ. Dupuis and Kunitz each cited their love of the city as factors in deciding to stay in Pittsburgh. I know people that have never been to the city, have, and will continue to bash it, but time and time again players CHOOSE to play here, live here, and stay after they retire. Bring on the hate, but Pittsburgh is a great city.

    • itsallniceonice - Aug 2, 2013 at 1:18 AM

      Ridiculous to compare Dupuis and Kunitz to Malkin. Geno took to Pitt not because of the city (LOL) but because of Gonchar taking him under his wing and helping him adjust to life in America. I’m sure having Alyonka around didn’t hurt either.

      • theageofquarrel - Aug 2, 2013 at 6:56 AM

        Malkin has said on numerous occasions that he likes Pittsburgh because it reminds him of his hometown in Russia and his parents have said the same thing.

      • awad2251 - Aug 2, 2013 at 9:39 AM

        Why is it ridiculous? Nobody is comparing them talent wise, but all 3 players are from a foreign country who could easily find a way to play closer to home. Yet, each decide to play in Pittsburgh. Not to mention, Geno is also posting pictures on Twitter of him wearing Steelers gear and rooting for the Steelers. He loves Pittsburgh and we love him! Let’s go Pens!!!

      • jpelle82 - Aug 2, 2013 at 10:33 AM

        never been to pittsburgh Rich Stein?

    • Rich Stein - Aug 2, 2013 at 10:13 AM

      Wah wah wah. People keep making fun of my city but these two NHL players spoke so highly of it as a reason they stayed!

      Yup. These guys just love Pittsburgh. I’m sure it has nothing to do with wanting to win a championship on such a talented team, or the huge wad of cash they get paid, or that their agents coach them on what to say to the media.

      Did you know that every single player ever who re-signed with their team told the media how much they love playing in ? That’s just how this works.

    • nj666 - Aug 2, 2013 at 11:02 AM

      New jersey treated Kovalchuk just fine, If new jersey is so bad then please to all of pennsylvania stay out of our state.

    • 950003cups - Aug 2, 2013 at 12:17 PM

      Someone from Pittsburgh actually poking fun at another city? That’s like having Riley Cooper run for president if the NAACP.

      • timsabourin - Aug 2, 2013 at 2:22 PM

        no

  4. modellforprez - Aug 1, 2013 at 11:50 PM

    Obvidently these tardballs havent the Slightest about one Evgeno Malkin. In pittsburgh Yes Sidster is the Captain but make no mistake or do i dont care here in this city Geno is a rock star and his parents everyone loves the Malkins. and lastly my cher douches i think Geno is smarter than that to just up and leave it all behind. Oh and there is the fact he recently broke ground on a million dollar home in the Rich hood of sewickly like where Mario Lemieux and Sid live so back up off the G kid

  5. modellforprez - Aug 1, 2013 at 11:53 PM

    no hate blackandyellow they have eyes they can see Pittsburgh is Beautiful and they cant f with us. Now to me alot of cities are Beautiful and have something that makes them that way like New yorks skyline or Chicago with the idk the wind anyways like blackandyellow said bring on the hate i dont think they know who theyre messing with. 412

    • dropthepuckeh - Aug 2, 2013 at 8:15 AM

      I don’t think anyone outside Philly “hates” Pittsburgh so maybe try not to be so defensive. The rest of the country looks at Pittsburgh as completely irrelevant. Save for a some good sports teams over the years there is nothing going on in Pittsburgh. Malkin likes it because he is paid millions of dollars and his family is safe from Russian goons. It also reminds him of a similar depressing city he grew up in Russia. I’m sure it means the world to some of the folks who live there but there is just so much more in this world than what Pitt has to offer. Even the people of Pittsburgh realize this as evidenced by the population shrinking over the last 20 years. When given the chance, people are leaving Pittsburgh.

      I’ve been to Pittsburgh. I’ve been to Chicago and NYC. Gentleman, Pittsburgh is no Chicago or NYC.

      • jpelle82 - Aug 2, 2013 at 10:51 AM

        people left pittsburgh when the jobs dried up. my grandfather left when they closed his steel mill in homestead where he was a crane operator. my dad left when he joined the marines in the late 70’s. its just like anywhere else in that regard. now that there’s a resurgence in job growth thanks to the financial, medical, and tech boom there, the population demographic has changed and the mass exodus hasnt been a factor for several years now. in fact, population has grown since 2010 and the suburbs have grown exponentially for longer than that.

      • hockey412 - Aug 2, 2013 at 10:52 AM

        Talk about irrelevant….

  6. girouxed - Aug 2, 2013 at 1:07 AM

    He does just kind of cruse by the media. If he wasn’t on the penguins he would definitely get more attention.

    • steelpenbucs87 - Aug 2, 2013 at 11:21 AM

      Agreed – I think having Sid be the media center of the team allows for him to just be himself behind the scenes. Also he hasn’t been able top pick up the language quite as easily as a guy like Ovechkin who can manage himself in front of the English-speaking media.

  7. itsallniceonice - Aug 2, 2013 at 1:13 AM

    Pretty sad that Geno even has to say something in response to this.

  8. sfbookreviews - Aug 2, 2013 at 1:35 AM

    You have to remember the circumstances surrounding Malkin’s arrival in the NHL.

    Just before leaving for the U.S., a couple goons invaded his house and refused to leave until he signed a contract with Metallurg. After a day or two of constant badgering and intimidation, Malkin signed the contract. He then had to literally sneak away from the team while it was in Finland to escape.

    Even though he now returns home in the off-season and obviously loves playing for his country in international tournaments, hard feelings still exist over what happened before his North American career got started. Add that to the way the city has embraced both himself and his parents as well as the fact that he likes being co-superstar on his team and this statement is no surprise.

    • hockey412 - Aug 2, 2013 at 7:41 AM

      CORRECT. There’s more going on than people realize.

      When Geno even signed his extension this year, he made sure he got his family out of the country first – I believe all/most of them were here. It’s not just that it’s easier to stay in Pittsburgh, it has taken real balls for him to stay.

  9. jonkchar - Aug 2, 2013 at 4:54 AM

    good words Jenya) ))))))))

  10. sjsharks66 - Aug 2, 2013 at 9:48 AM

    @dropthepuck

    From what I have seen from the city of Pittsburgh, it looks like a comfortable place to settle down. It does not look like a loud and busy city. Maybe that is what some people like about it. I have never been, just saying it looks sort of nice.

    • dropthepuckeh - Aug 2, 2013 at 10:03 AM

      So you’ve never been but “it looks sort of nice”. You should work for their Chamber of Commerce. Ringing endorsement….

      • steelpenbucs87 - Aug 2, 2013 at 11:33 AM

        As a native Pittsburgher who has since moved on to a much larger city, I can say that SJ’s characterization of the city is fairly accurate. It does have a little bit of everything (both good and bad) and has a sprawling suburban population for those looking for a quieter areas, and some “hot spots” (using that in quotes purposefully – Manhattan, LA, DC, Miami it is DEFINITELY not) around the Universities.

  11. frankiesweep - Aug 2, 2013 at 12:14 PM

    You mean he doesn’t want to go over and skate in the ice capades w no hitting and lower level talent?

    Good for him.

  12. hazlydose - Aug 2, 2013 at 2:59 PM

    He bolted from his KHL team in the dead of night while they were in Finland and came to PIttsburgh with nothing but a hockey bag and the clothes on his back. I’m pretty sure he wants to be here.

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