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Malkin says Russian stars were ready to stay in KHL

Aug 3, 2013, 10:36 AM EDT

Evgeni Malkin AP

We all remember how not-delightful the NHL lockout was. It could’ve been particularly destructive for the league had some of their top Russian players never returned from overseas when it ended, however.

That’s precisely what almost went down according to Penguins star Evgeni Malkin. He tells SovSport, as translated by Igor Kleyner of Capitals blog Russian Machine Never Breaks that he and other superstar Russians like Ilya Kovalchuk, Alexander Ovechkin, and Pavel Datsyuk nearly stayed at home last season.

While Kovalchuk did find a way to return home, Malkin also says the lure of going back to Russia to play there will always be there and it’s something he might consider doing later in his career.

Teams and fans will always have that fear their favorite Russian player will want to return to their roots. Kovalchuk and Jets forward Alex Burmistrov both pulled that off this year.

As for Malkin, unless he pulls a Kovalchuk he won’t be going anywhere soon as his extension with the Penguins kicks in this season and lasts til the end of 2022.

  1. northstarnic - Aug 3, 2013 at 10:52 AM

    The league and union might want to consider this as they begin planning for the next big lockout.

    • kaptaanamerica - Aug 3, 2013 at 12:26 PM

      The league already can have its contract recognized and enforced.if a player like burmistrov who is an rfa wants to go back that’s his choice.he wasn’t under contract to the jets.kovy went back after the devils agreed to let him go.that’s the difference.Malkin can’t go back so long as the pens don’t agree while he’s under contract, neither can any other Russian under contract.

      • stakex - Aug 3, 2013 at 3:01 PM

        Actually the agreement between the NHL and KHL to honor each others contracts expired this summer and as far as I know hasn’t been renewed. That means its pretty hard for an NHL team to fight a contracted player leaving for the KHL.

        They could always take the issue up with the IIHF, but that’s a crap shoot at best.

      • leshka09 - Aug 3, 2013 at 3:09 PM

        if Malkin decides he doesnt want to stay — they will let him go.
        If they force him to stay per contract, he simply won’t play his best and would be worthless, practically speaking.

  2. 950003cups - Aug 3, 2013 at 11:02 AM

    Ovi could be next. One has to believe that Datsyuk, Ovi and Malkin would all get bigger offers than Kovy.

    Caps, Wings, and Pens fans better hope Russia doesn’t win the Gold in Soshi. If that happens, the offers will be pouring in.

    • clefty1 - Aug 3, 2013 at 11:15 AM

      If Datsyuk would of wanted to go back he would not of signed a 3 year extension with a year left on his current contract.

      • killerpgh - Aug 3, 2013 at 12:12 PM

        Yeah. And if Kovy wanted to go back he wouldn’t of tried signing a 17 year deal either….. I don’t think Kovy and the threat of others leaving will stop GM’s from offering long term contracts to star Russian players. But I don’t think they will be front loaded like some other player because of the recapturing penalty that hits a teams salary cap if a player retires early of a front loaded deal. Shero structured Malkin’s deal the right way. Malkin makes 9.5 a year/every year of his 8 year 76 million dollar contract. (No signing bonus until the last 2 years either). So if Malkin decides it’s time to head back home the Penguins will not receive a cap penalty.

    • stakex - Aug 3, 2013 at 3:03 PM

      I don’t think Ovechkin is going anywhere. He seems to very much enjoy being in the US… as where Kovy never appeared to be all that happy.

      Datsyuk will probably be the first of those three to play in the KHL. He’ll be 38 when his contract expires, and I wouldn’t be shocked at all if he plays the last couple years of his career in the KHL.

  3. modellforprez - Aug 3, 2013 at 11:03 AM

    He’s right. Something should be done that allows teams some type of Compensation like in football and baseball where extra draft picks are awarded to teams based on free agency losses Etc. And im not saying that is the answer but the union and league should do something to guard against that from happening. If not maybe a few years down the road we could see a change in these matters…

    • killerpgh - Aug 3, 2013 at 12:26 PM

      I could see doing something if a player left during his RFA’s years, but once a player is eligible for UFA status a team should not get compensated if he leaves for anther NHL team or leave the country.

  4. clefty1 - Aug 3, 2013 at 11:14 AM

    Where do the Russian clubs get the money to pay these contracts?

    • chanceoffleury1 - Aug 3, 2013 at 12:50 PM

      The contracts are not insured. A lot of the teams are owned by Russian property or oil billionaires, but some aren’t. Players are not guaranteed the money they sign for and owners not paying players the amount they signed for does happen on occasion. A few years ago it actually became a huge problem where star players had to take paycuts so that accessory players could get paid. Teams can cut players and just get rid of contracts if they don’t want them anymore. There is a lot more risk involved which is why the owners have to give star players more compensation to come back (or just not leave in the first place). The money in the NHL is guaranteed, and if a team didn’t want to pay a player than they would be in for a huge lawsuit.

    • hockeyflow33 - Aug 3, 2013 at 2:03 PM

      Oil magnates and mobsters

    • leshka09 - Aug 3, 2013 at 3:13 PM

      that’s new russia for you – incomes grew twenty fold in the last 10 years & flat 13% income tax helps.

  5. capsrockva - Aug 3, 2013 at 11:21 AM

    I hope that doesn’t happen. The league would be crippled if that happens, cause there just isn’t enough talented players left after you take this into consideration

  6. cspsrbums - Aug 3, 2013 at 11:41 AM

    While I think it would be bad for the NHL teams shouldn’t get compensated for a Russian player leaving that’s the chance you take with picking them or anyone. Also I may be wrong but if they leave and still have a contract that team will have that cap space back. Isn’t that what happen with NJ ?

  7. vstar1us - Aug 3, 2013 at 11:47 AM

    I think let them all go home, if you live in fear your favorite NHL player might leave maybe we should evaluate sports all together !
    I love Hockey, but I won’t be kept on a string if they are upset they will take their PUCK and leave.

  8. channelguy - Aug 3, 2013 at 12:27 PM

    Most of the KHL clubs CANT pay this kind of money, only a few, and they aren’t making it back. Revenues are MUCH lower than in the NHL – no equivalent TV deals and attendance that is much lower even than NHL weak sisters like Phoenix. A few KHL teams would be competitive to get in the NHL playoffs, but most are somewhere between the AHL and NHL level, and a few are like baseball’s Minnesota Twins in the late Calvin Griffiths years, where if at the end of the season, you haven’t gone broke, that’s a win.

  9. hockeytowninhabitant - Aug 3, 2013 at 12:27 PM

    We all have to understand that Russia is their home, and where they want to be, they aren’t greedy, just homesick, I have no problem is someone does what Kovalchuk did, which was a mutual decision too

    • billyhauntswizards - Aug 3, 2013 at 2:09 PM

      a 20 million salary didn’t help Kovy’s case though.

  10. hockeytowninhabitant - Aug 3, 2013 at 12:28 PM


  11. SpeakPhilly - Aug 3, 2013 at 12:44 PM

    WE WILL WIN THIS ONE FOR MOTHER RUSSIA!!! Go home you bunch of sniveling pansies

  12. bunglesandbears - Aug 3, 2013 at 12:46 PM

    I think the Stanly Cup winning team and the winner of the KHL’s Gagarin Cup should play for the World Cup every 4 years.

    • leshka09 - Aug 3, 2013 at 3:14 PM

      every year.

  13. penguins2946 - Aug 3, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    So bascially, he’s saying that if the lockout would have continued for a few weeks, he would have stayed in Russia. However, if the lockout would have continued for a few weeks, the season would have been cancelled. So basically, he’s saying that if the season would be cancelled, he would have stayed in Russia. So shocking.

  14. thedavesiknowiknow - Aug 3, 2013 at 1:31 PM

    Cue agent’s claim something was lost in translation. ……..

  15. billyhauntswizards - Aug 3, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    As fans of these players there should be no f–king reason we should be scared of Russians leaving our team. If they want to leave, let them! WE pay their salaries, we don’t owe them ANYTHING. So if they really dislike North America that much, let them leave, f–k them.

    • thedavesiknowiknow - Aug 3, 2013 at 7:32 PM

      So, you’re saying you want the NHL to feature the best players in North America? Trust me, that’ll get old fast.

      • billyhauntswizards - Aug 3, 2013 at 11:06 PM

        no but I don’t like this whole schtick where the NHL gets bullied by Russian players because of the threat of the KHL. It’s not like I want them gone, just I don’t like this WELL ILL GO BACK TO RUSSIA RARRRRRRRRR bs.

    • icelovinbrotha215 - Aug 4, 2013 at 2:02 PM

      You realize that some of the NHL’s biggest stars are European (in this case, Russian)? Removing talent will hurt the product. Doesn’t mean that the product will fail to exist but it does leave a dent.

  16. hockeyflow33 - Aug 3, 2013 at 2:04 PM

    Isn’t he the same person who had to sneak out of Russia to join the Penguins?

    • jcmeyer10 - Aug 3, 2013 at 3:39 PM

      He will be much happier going back with millions of dollars. He just had to sneak out to make his money.

  17. pastabelly - Aug 3, 2013 at 3:17 PM

    The Bruins tried to get rid of their little Russian headache last year. If Koko was one of the reasons the scouting director was fired, great. Th kid refused to go with the team’s development plan and was included in the aborted Iginla deal. Wasted high draft pick. Some teams do well with Russians. I suppose Czechs, Swedes, Fins, Slovaks, and other Europeans just fit in beter.

    • hockeyflow33 - Aug 3, 2013 at 10:26 PM

      So you’re calling a 19 year old kid who’s played 26 KHL games a bust for the Bruins?

  18. sunk500 - Aug 3, 2013 at 6:24 PM

    As a European I don’t see this being a big deal. However I can tell Americans/Canadians cant relate because they have the league in their backyard.

    I know this is MLS, but take Dempsey coming back to playing in the Seattle for 9m/year – Everyone in Seattle (and arguably America) is happy to have him back even though we all all know MLS is not as competitive as Premier League. He’s doing what Ilya is doing.

    As a Russian you would have to be excited to have Russian stars coming home and playing in your country. I know swedes have done this as well. Jorgen Jonson is an example and he decided to not stay in NHL after just a year or two, because he simply didn’t like the quality of life – so he took a paycut to stay in his home country.

    Each to his own. I don’t think we should sit here and judge, instead we should embrace people for doing whatever makes them happy and focus a little bit on our own lives instead of telling others how to live theirs.

  19. flydommo - Aug 3, 2013 at 6:26 PM

    Brilliant idea! The series should be played both on North American and European ice rinks to determine the true number one club team in the world.

  20. shoobiedoobin - Aug 5, 2013 at 12:43 PM

    Ovi and Malkin maybe but if you think Pavel Datsyuk would not honor an agreement with his team, you don’t know Pavel Datsyuk very well. He’s a Detroit character player, same as Yzerman, Lidstrom and others. He won’t ditch. Period.

  21. bhawk729 - Aug 5, 2013 at 5:02 PM

    Of the Russian ‘superstars’ how many of them, other than Datsyuk, has a Stanley Cup? I don’t think it would affect the league as much as they say

  22. bhawk729 - Aug 5, 2013 at 5:12 PM

    Can’t think of Any Russians on the Blackhawks 2010 or 2013 Stanley Cup teams. You don’t need Russians to Win the Cup

    • shoobiedoobin - Aug 5, 2013 at 6:03 PM

      No, just refs.

  23. bhawk729 - Aug 5, 2013 at 5:35 PM

    I stand corrected Malkin does have a Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh. Ovie and Kovi gots none

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