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Pittsburgh Penguins star Evgeni Malkin(notes) recently spoke on Russian TV (NTV Plus channel) and was his usual candid self in Russian-language interviews.

I've translated a portion of the transcript posted online in which Geno speaks about his admiration of teammate Sidney Crosby(notes); his opinions on Alex Ovechkin(notes) as an NHL player; and why stats don't always determine who the best players are.

Here's Malkin's quotes from the interview:

"I got very lucky that I got on the same team with Sidney Crosby. I don't know why many underrate his talent, say that he is 'over-promoted,' that he has been talked about since he was 14. To me he is the No. 1 player in the world. I won't say why other players are not as good as he is; to me he is the best. I played with a lot of guys.

"I don't think that if a player gets 120 points — for example, Alex Ovechkin or Henrik Sedin(notes) — then he is the best. To me the main criteria are, in the first place, it is work in practice, work in the locker room, work during games. Crosby gives 200 percent every time, whether it is a practice or a game. To me it was a huge example when I came to Pittsburgh. I had never seen such a worker. Moreover, Sidney participates in every team meeting, films commercials, gives a lot of interviews. He does it for the team, in the first place.

"We have a good, friendly relationship with Crosby. In principle, I have good relationships with all the guys. Sidney is a quiet boy. [Laughs]  Actually, not a boy, but a man. Certainly without a crown on his head, quite adequate, very demanding to himself, very forthcoming, fun. He can party just like everyone else.

"As far as who is better, Malkin or Ovechkin — here everyone has their own opinion. What sort of a discussion could it be? If Ovechkin is the best to me, then for someone else it's Malkin, for another one it is Crosby. Of course, it is interesting for viewers to talk, but... How can you determine who is the best? I don't know to what extent Ovechkin and I may be viewed as representatives of the same school. When Ovechkin came to the NHL, he adjusted very quickly, adapted to the Canadian style. And it is a huge plus for him.

"In my first years [in the NHL] I felt a bit uncomfortable, unconfident. I felt bounded somewhat. Until I understood the essence of the rink, the essence of the game... Alex has such a talent that he quickly adapts to rink sizes, the style of play, plus he has this insolence, in a good way, helps him a lot. I think that right now he is already a 'Canadian,' you can say. This is what he is called in the NHL — the 'Russian Canadian,' because he completes so many hits in a game. In this setting he's like a knife in butter.

"I needed more time, but with time I got used to, and in my third/fourth year in the NHL, I feel quite confident already. And, to be honest, I am also becoming a Canadian. Because you start thinking more about a shot, you don't think about a pass anymore. It is difficult to keep your Russian style of play when you're at a different arena in a foreign country, on these small rinks.

"That's why in Germany it was interesting when we played with Pavel Datsyuk(notes): a lot of passes. We played, of course, a little different than in the NHL. It's just when you are required to shoot more during a game, you don't think about passes. If you start passing, you will be benched. And you start implementing coach's plan, and when you're implementing it then you switch to the different type of game."

Next week, I should have more offseason news involving the NHL, the KHL and free-agent decisions.

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