For his role in leading Team Russian to a gold medal at the World Championships this weekend, Evgeni Malkin was invited to the Kremlin to be honored by Russian president Vladimir Putin.
And this is the photo he took.
It's a downright incredible shot. Strip away the fancy gold background and the flags, and you'd have no idea that this was an athlete meeting the president of his home country.
Alex Ovechkin, too, was maybe a tad too casual when it came time for his meet-and-greet with the president. Putin seemed to think so too, as evidenced in this great gif, courtesy Russian Machine Never Breaks:
It's possible that this isn't a peace sign. It could a "V" for Vladimir. Or maybe a two, for how many people are in the photo.
But if it's a peace sign, that's cool. Putin loves peace, after all. He jailed that female punk group because they were disturbing it, and for no other reason. And throwing up two fingers is far less disrespectful than just pointing with your eyes wide, effectively turning a shot that should say, "I am honoured to be in this man's presence" into a shot that says "look at this weird old little man I found".
Here's the thing, though. This is just what Malkin does. He's met a lot of other leaders in his time as an NHL superstar, and the point is pretty clearly his trademark pose. Take a look:
He's the leader of the free world, Malkin! Have you lost your mind?!
Sandwiched between The Queen and the Queen Mother, Malkin can't help but point it out. We know, Geno. We know.
It's amazing Kim Jong Un didn't have him killed.
Same goes for Emperor Palpatine. It's incredible what you can get away with when you're good at hockey.
King Joffrey, too. But he's got his hands full holding onto that iron throne. And a big wedding coming up! (I'm a few episodes behind.)
He also met the king of the manatees. Even underwater, he took the time to point.
The Burger King seems pretty into the hand gestures.
Lord Voldemort, not so much.
But it's not just with world leaders. Malkin does this pose at all sorts of inappropriate times. Like when he met the Avengers.
And at the Olympics, during the shootout with the USA.
It's weird that he got dressed so quickly.
And right after the Putin photo-op was done, when they trotted out a tinier version of Malkin:
Finally, that time he met God was strange. I wouldn't have pointed.
Oh, what's that? You can't see God? You must not believe hard enough. On the bright side, if you don't believe hard enough, you can probably use this image to photoshop Malkin into other places. Obviously it doesn't work if you can see God. I'd apologize, but what are you complaining about? You can see God.
- Evgeni Malkin