July 22, 2009
Pittsburgh Penguins star Evgeni Malkin(notes) had an OK month of June: Winning the Stanley Cup for the first time, taking home the Conn Smythe and Art Ross trophies. For that, he was named Athlete of the Month by Russia's federal public sport channel "Sport" and Sovetsky Sport.
"It is great that I became Athlete of the Month in Russia. My friends and parents told me about that. It was unexpected. But I love to be No. 1," said Malkin to SovSport. "Why didn't I watch TV when the people were voting? It's summertime. It's time to go out, get together with friends."
Here's a translation of an interview with Malkin, originally conducted by Pavel Lysenkov and published in Sovetsky Sport. It covers a very wide variety of topics, from infamous photos involving Malkin on the beach and Sidney Crosby(notes) sleeping with the Stanley Cup; the chances that he'll follow Sergei Fedorov's(notes) path back to Russia; and whether he was upset to lose out to Alexander Ovechkin(notes) for the Hart Trophy.
Q. When fans come to Magnitogorsk, will you invite them to "VIP-Zone" restaurant? It is your place and is so colorful -- it is decorated "prison" style.
MALKIN: Your information is a bit old. We leased the place. And it changed now. No one is fed out of aluminum plates anymore. But it is still delicious. The preference is for the Russian cuisine -- shish kebob, meat and stuff like that.
Is it still your business?
It brings me money. But I wouldn't say that it is purely my business.
I understand that you are drawn to cooking. Many fans remember how in the middle of last season you were on Pittsburgh-TV, where Alena Larionova is the host. You cooked something nice together.
I think we made pirogi stuffed with potatoes and jam... But I am not drawn to be a cook. I don't really like cooking. Alena just called me to be on her show and I accepted.
I love vareniki with potatoes. And the real Ural pelmeni. I can eat a lot of them. I also like blintz with jam. But, as you already understood, I like to eat more than I like to cook.
Let me tell you a story. When we were in the playoffs, city papers in Pittsburgh started publishing that I played so well because I are my mom's borsch, that it was some kind of a secret dish that gives everyone strength. At that time my parents were actually in America with me. So, they asked my mom for the borsch recipe and published it in the paper. Like it was something secret.
I know you vacationed in Miami ...
How do you know that? Yes, it's true that I went there for six days or so. I hang out with Ilya Kovalchuk, Sergei Gonchar(notes). We went out to have dinner together in the evening, and spent time at the beach during the day, swam in the ocean. The water was so warm.
Paparazzi took a lot of pictures of you with your girlfriend Oksana and posted them on the Internet and printed them in magazines.
I saw those pictures. They were good. What else can I say?
I would be happy if I were you. Paparazzi only stalk stars. Now your rank is very high.
I am happy. Although I still don't understand how they were able to take pictures of me. There weren't a lot of people at that beach. And there was certainly no one running around with a camera there. But overall the pictures were good. Keep it up, paparazzi!
And my Oksana liked it as well. What girl doesn't like appearing in magazines? It was her debut.
You avoided the spotlight with her before. But at the NHL awards ceremony in June you came as a couple. Why?
Our relationship is progressing. We decided to be together. And why not go out together in Las Vegas? Oksana is my girlfriend. Let everyone see it.
We saw. We can congratulate you: Oksana looks like Angelina Jolie.
Maybe some facial features... But I don't think about it. Something else is more important for me: her personality, how she treats me, if she loves me. And as a person she is interesting to me.
When will you bring the Stanley Cup to Magnitogorsk?
It is difficult to say. I haven't spoken to the Penguins yet. But I was promised that it would happen in mid or late August. I want to have the Cup by August 31, when the Ramazan hockey tournament begins in Magnitogorsk. Gennadi Velichkin (Metallurg's GM) wants it too. We are trying it for the fans. But it doesn't depend on us, but on the NHL.
How are you getting along with Velichkin?
It has always been good. We never had major fights. This year, for example, when I arrived in Magnitogorsk, Velichkin was the first to greet me. I respect him. And if you recall the scandal that followed my departure for Pittsburgh, Velichkin was just doing his job that he loves very much. It is No. 1 for him. He works with his heart. Sometimes emotions take over him. But I always understand him. Any team will have a difficult time finding a general manager like him.
There was a picture of Sidney Crosby sleeping with the Stanley Cup, which made its way around the internet.
I saw it. It was funny. I have no idea where they caught Sidney. I was in Russia when this funny picture appeared. And no one from the team confirms it. Maybe it was done in Photoshop?
Didn't you have a party in Mario Lemieux's house where Crosby lives? The Cup was brought there.
That's rights, we had a party, swam in the pool. The Cup was with us outside. But no one took the Cup to the bedroom. At least I didn't see it.
It is funny that one newspaper confused you with Crosby and wrote that it was Malkin hugging the trophy.
This is a mistake! Although the picture was [of bad quality] that anyone could make a mistake. Maybe it wasn't even Crosby at all.
Alright, so the Cup will make it to Magnitogorsk. And when will Malkin get there? When will you come back to Metallurg? When you're 40, like Sergei Fedorov?
So, this is the way you're putting it?
Why not? Andrei Arshavin [Russian soccer player] said that he wants to play for Arsenal [in England] but will finish his career in Zenit [his former Russian club].
I don't want to think years ahead. My contract with Pittsburgh is for five seasons. But maybe in five years I will be in Metallurg. Who knows how my life will turn out to be?
We won't dismiss this option. I feel like I still want to play for Russian and Magnitogorsk fans. It is possible to come back at some point of my careers. You gave me a good idea. And imagine a lockout in the NHL in 2012. It is possible, right? Then I will definitely come to Russia.
Was Sergei Fedorov your idol when you were young?
Yes, you could say that. I used to be a Red Wings' fan before. I was in awe of the Russian Five. I remember how I rooted for Detroit when they had their battles with Colorado. Not only back then, but even now Fedorov is one of my favorite players. And an idol. A super forward, who can do anything on the ice.
Who is a better center: Sergei Fedorov or Mario Lemiuex?
I don't like to compare players. Each one has their advantages. I haven't seen Lemieux [in action] that much. But I think he is a bit stronger than Fedorov. Mario is not just a big talent, but a genius.
The Capitals are taking a course on getting younger. I don't know who the Capitals signed. But Fedorov and Kozlov are serious losses. But there are a lot of free agents on the market now. If you make the right choice, you can actually be even stronger.
When will you start your preparations for the new season?
As usual, at the end of July, I will start playing tennis, start going to the gym. Right now I am leaving for Spain with my girlfriend for a vacation. I will start getting ready there. And then I will continue my preparations in Moscow. I need to find a good physical fitness trainer. Maybe I will be able to work with the trainer who always works with Ilya Kovalchuk.
Why in Moscow and not in St. Petersburg like two years ago?
"I want to spend some time in August in the capital. I bought a condo in downtown Moscow. It's time to live there."
Were you upset when the Hart trophy went to another muscovite Alex Ovechkin?
I wouldn't say so. I actually had a great season. And there were enough awards - the Stanley Cup, Conn Smythe, Art Ross. The Hart is awarded by journalists. I couldn't influence the result at all. Then why get upset over it? It didn't depend on me. As I like to say, if this Hart wasn't awarded to me, that means there is still something to work on.