Evgeni Malkin’s dad sparks tampering controversy with Dallas Stars

Vladimir Malkin is the father of Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins. You may know him as the kindly old man that enthusiastically cheers for his son during the playoffs, along with his equally adorable wife.

Now you’ll know him as the guy who inadvertently sparked a tampering controversy in the 2013 offseason involving the Dallas Stars.

Papa Makin spoke with SovSport (via Dmitry) and indicated that the Stars had made his son an offer to play in Dallas.

Here’s the interview by Sergei Begishev and Pavel Lysenkov, via Dmitry Chesnokov of Puck Daddy:

The main event of the summer – Ilya Kovalchuk terminated his $100 million contract with New Jersey and came back to SKA. Could Evgeni Malkin do the same?

“I don’t think so. If Zhenya [short for Evgeni] wanted to, he would not be so quick to extend his contract with Pittsburgh, as happened this summer. Actually the Penguins were in no hurry to sign my son. The negotiations weren’t going well. But at the last moment when Zhenya was ready to go to Russia, Pittsburgh suddenly agreed to all the conditions [Malkin’s] agent put forward.”

They felt something…

“They got worried. Maybe they decided that he was ready to change his mind. They called early in the morning, Zhenya went to the office, signed everything, and a couple of hours he went to the airport.”

Would Malkin be able to go to a different team?

“You know, Dallas offered my son a bigger contract than Pittsburgh. And Zhenya replied ‘No, I don’t want [to go] there.’ And that’s when the Stars had already signed Sergei Gonchar. His [Malkin’s] best friend [Gonchar] was there. Why not agree to go there?

“But son said ‘If things in Pittsburgh were ever to go downhill and I would have to leave, I would pick the New York Rangers or the Montreal Canadiens. There are a few clubs, but I am in no rush to be in Dallas. But actually I don’t want to change houses, go somewhere. I am used to Pittsburgh - to the city and the team.’

“So, my son’s character is as such that he doesn’t like to jump from place to place. And as a father I think that if a player is a big star, then he often spends the entire career with one club in the NHL. Just like Datsyuk, Crosby, Ovechkin… There are plenty of examples. And if you start running, then you will never stop. What’s good about that?”

This is all very interesting.

No, not that part where Kovalchuk expedited Malkin's contract talks, despite Malkin re-signing weeks before Kovalchuk "reitred."

No, not that part where Malkin would leave the Penguins for the Rangers or Habs if things “don’t work out” – please modulate your salivation levels, respective fan bases.

No, it's the fact that there’s literally no way the Stars could have made an offer to Malkin without violating the NHL’s tampering laws.

Malkin has never been a free agent. He hasn’t been close to being one. He signed his second contract in 2008, one year before his entry level deal was set to expire. He signed his most recent contract – 8 years for $76 million – one year before his contract was to expire as well.

Hence, if the Stars ever entered into discussions about a contract offer – or, like idiots, actually made one – it would be a slam-dunk tampering case for the NHL.

From Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News:

What might have happened is that good friend Sergei Gonchar signed a two-year deal with the Stars on June 10th and asked Malkin about the possibility of coming to Dallas if he became a UFA in 2014. Malkin might have discussed that with his father, but all of this is speculation at this time. Officially, Gonchar is not a representative of the Stars.

The guess is the Stars have had no contact with Malkin or his agent, and this is just a misunderstanding with Malkin’s father. But the NHL takes tampering seriously, and will probably at least make a few phone calls to see what happened.

It’s also possible that Malkin was thinking out loud about what teams could afford him should things with the Penguins go sideways. Given the financial backing of the Stars, and the money Gonchar just received, one assumes they’d be on that list.

The idea that something was lost in translation here would seem to be the most likely scenario, but let’s consider the alternatives:

1. Gonchar made an overture to Malkin that he should join him in Dallas. Heika writes, “Officially, Gonchar is not a representative of the Stars.”

This is true, technically. But so is this, from the NHL Standard Player Contract (1995 version, but we assume the language hasn’t dramatically changed):

The Player agrees during the period of this Contract and during any period when he is obligated under this Contract to enter into a further contract with the Club he will not tamper with or enter into negotiations with any player under contract or reservation to any Club of the League for or regarding such player's current or future services, without the written consent of the Club with which such player is connected under penalty of a fine to be imposed by the Commissioner of the League.

So, in theory, Gonchar would be the one that gets dinged here if he was already under contract with Dallas.

The Stars' signing of Gonchar was a lot closer to Malkin's with the Penguins due to the fact that Gonchar's rights were acquired via trade. Gonchar was traded to the Stars on June 7; Malkin signed his extension on June 13.

So the timeline actually works here.

2. A representative of the Dallas Stars engaged in negotiations with Malkin while he was under contract with the Penguins.

This would be … frowned up. From Gary Bettman in 2008, via ESPN:

“If there's tampering going on, ultimately there are no secrets in this world. We will get to the bottom of it. And I'm no fan of tampering. And when it happens, it gets punished severely. A team that meddles with an individual under contract could face heavy fines and the loss of draft picks.”

Wonder if Mr. Lemieux gave Gary a call on the Mario Phone this morning. You know, that hotline he uses when he’s like, “Yo, Bettman, we need to win the lottery this season …”

Again: It’s a moot point, given that Malkin re-signed with the Penguins, and it’s hard to imagine this is anything more than Gonchar and Malkin having some conversation about how fun it would be to reunite in Dallas. He doesn’t speak for Dallas. Papa Malkin doesn’t speak for Evgeni.

But the NHL is going to have to do some digging on this one now that it’s gone public.

(Ed. Note: Information on Gonchar trade updated at 3:55 p.m. ET.)