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New Pens coach flying to Russia to meet with Malkin

Jul 21, 2014, 7:20 PM EDT

Mike Johnston, Jim Rutherford, Rick Tocchet AP

New Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Johnston wants to make a good first impression with his stars. One way of doing that is to pay a visit to them at home, even if home is in Russia.

Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review shared an interview with Johnston in which he says he’s flying to Europe to meet up with Evgeni Malkin at home and it’s not just to talk hockey either.

“I want to talk with Geno (Evgeni Malkin). I want to get to know him,” Johnston said. “I think it’s a good thing for a player who he gets to meet his new coach on his home turf. I think it will be comfortable for Geno. It’s a chance for me to meet him, and for us to talk, and I think it’s important. When training camp comes, you don’t really get too much time to talk.”

It’s a bold step for Johnston to go to such lengths to meet and talk with your stars. Considering the pressure Malkin and Sidney Crosby have been under to bring another Stanley Cup to Pittsburgh, getting on the same page as them is a smart move.

  1. sportsfaninyyc - Jul 21, 2014 at 7:22 PM

    Don’t take a shortcut over the Ukraine.

    • enzod91 - Jul 21, 2014 at 8:15 PM

      beat me to it. nicely done. lol

  2. sjsharks66 - Jul 21, 2014 at 7:40 PM

    Very interesting, really cool thing for him to do.

  3. stixzidinia - Jul 21, 2014 at 7:42 PM

    Love it. This guy is going to be good for the team. His hockey strategies book is brilliant.

  4. killerpgh - Jul 21, 2014 at 8:06 PM

    My 1st thought when I heard this earlier today was why? I couldn’t picture a proven/veteran coach doing this. Just kind of struck me as odd. If Malkin was concerned about meeting his new coach then he should be the one making the plan on getting here a day to 2 before camp opens. Then I remembered that the NHL is a business and the organization traded away his friend and line mates at the draft so a little “sucking up” to one of the star players isn’t out of line. Even if it is just to talk and let him know how you plan on using him this upcoming season.

    • hockey412 - Jul 22, 2014 at 8:24 AM

      To be honest I don’t know that Malkin and Neal were friends…and the chemistry on ice was fizzling, too.

      But, I heard Johnston talking about this, and it makes sense. He can’t wait until camp, because he wants to actually KNOW ALL of the players. What they are like off the ice, their interests/families/what drives them. He won’t have another shot after camp starts, and it’s too busy during the year. It’s kind of the only shot he has to do this.

      The Pens need a coach they respect – this seems a pretty good way to earn a little. I can only imagine how mischievous Malkin is on his own turf, though.

  5. milkmemalkin - Jul 21, 2014 at 8:57 PM

    Stanley Cup Champs. Book it.

    • whammy71 - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:56 AM

      Even I won’t go there! Ha! But I hope!

  6. canuckinamerica - Jul 21, 2014 at 9:18 PM

    When he gets gassed, he wants to have all the Frequent Flier miles he can get.

  7. jtm12180 - Jul 21, 2014 at 10:30 PM

    Sportsfaninnyc…too soon bro, tooooo soon

  8. c1md6 - Jul 21, 2014 at 11:05 PM

    Why the urgency to flu to Russia? Could Malkin be on the verge of making the leap like Kovy to the KHL? Danny Briere said that this whole story “seems fishy”.

    • hockey412 - Jul 22, 2014 at 8:25 AM

      He’s attempting to meet up with all of the players, or as many as possible.

    • bsilentassassin - Jul 23, 2014 at 5:19 PM

      Anyone who knows the whole story about Malkin and the KHL knows he won’t go back to play their permanently. He loves if in Pittsburgh. As for Kovi he seemed out of place in Jersey. His contract was too big and it was time for him to move on

  9. blomfeld - Jul 22, 2014 at 12:20 AM


    We SC Champion LA Kings ‘never’ did consider the Penguins to be a ‘serious’ threat ! :)

    • govtminion - Jul 22, 2014 at 8:33 AM

      And by ‘we’, you mean you and all the other names you post under.

  10. ravanator - Jul 22, 2014 at 8:00 AM

    Johnston is a disgrace to the great game of hockey. He is flying over to offer Malkin some improper player benefits and commit some more recruiting violations. He will be suspended before the first preseason game. Once a cheater, always a cheater. Cheers!


    • oldirtyman - Jul 22, 2014 at 11:42 AM

      I see you are now also spewing your garbage on PHT, crawl back under your crackhouse in Baltimore and shut up. Go back to PFT troll. Btw, Caps Suck!

      • wutangwild - Jul 22, 2014 at 12:41 PM

        for real, after watching The Wire I have no desire to visit B-more

    • jtm12180 - Jul 22, 2014 at 2:06 PM

      wait…Baltimore has a hockey team?!

  11. wutangwild - Jul 22, 2014 at 12:16 PM

    Smart move by Johnston, hopefully Geno doesn’t pull him into any shenanigans in the motherland. I have a feeling Evgeni knows how to party

  12. peter845 - Jul 22, 2014 at 7:39 PM

    I don’t like penguins and I’m really disappointed they didn’t hire Torts!!! Lol

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