Sunday, August 20, 2006

More on Malkin

Taking advantage of what has been hockey's biggest story this summer, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review dispatched reporter Karen Price to Santa Monica, California, to meet up with future Penguins star Evgeni Malkin.

The end result provides the full story on what the youngster went through the past week in Russia, and what his current mindset is like. It's compelling stuff.

Malkin felt betrayed. The team had nurtured him throughout his career and had always been there for him, but when he knew it was his time to be in the NHL, he realized they were concerned only with their own interests.

"After I had the contract signed, I felt so upset and I felt deceived by Velichkin," Malkin said. "I felt something had to be done about that, so I phoned J.P. the next day and asked him to help me to leave. I was so determined."
One of the major problems with this story to date is that many have been far too quick to vilify Malkin, a just-turned 20-year-old kid who — as I wrote earlier — comes from a modest Russian background and has been pushed and pulled in every direction for much of his life.

Everyone has had an opinion, but they haven't always been well-informed.

That Malkin's been mistreated in his home country, however, is now undeniable. I think it's time we laud this youngster's courage and prepare the welcoming committee.


At 6:15 p.m., August 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, well, well, Mr. Mirtle. What are your journalistic instincts telling you about listening to both sides of the story?

Of course the team is looking for its own interests, and mind you, Malkin had a contract for 2006-07 (and 07-08) even before he signed the new deal which guaranteed him for more money.

Of course it's unfortunate that the kid was put in the spot like this, but that's the way the sports market works these days. Sorry. Put your parade hat back into the closet.

At 6:29 p.m., August 20, 2006, Blogger Doogie2K said...

And yet, he could have walked away from his contract, legally, and had planned on it. The fact that he was coerced into signing the contract immediately gives Metallurg no leg to stand on. I don't think contracts signed under duress are even legally-binding, are they?

At 6:41 p.m., August 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where's the duress? Nothing in that story makes it sound like anything more than the Russian team trying to get him to stay another year.

Seems to me Malkin is just a child with agents who don't seem to be in the right place at the right time (a good agent would be in that meeting in Russia and would end it if there was anything bad going on).

At 6:51 p.m., August 20, 2006, Blogger Doogie2K said...

Following him back to his house and making him sign a contract at 3 AM isn't coersion? Pardon me for forgetting that Russia is a "free" country.

Also, regarding his Russian "agent":

"With an easy transfer no longer a possibility, Malkin's then-agents, Newport Sports, took advantage of a loophole in Russian labor law that allows an employee to give two-weeks' notice and walk away from the job, even if the employee is under contract. But what Malkin didn't know was that, inexplicably, his Russian-based Newport agent had turned his passport over to the team."

--Karen Price, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

It was his American agents that actually flew into Finland and got him out.

It really amuses me that anyone can defend Metallurg's actions, especially when the nature of "capitalism" in Russia should be well-understood by now.

At 7:04 p.m., August 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How was he "made" to sign the contract?

The Newport agents aren't Russian, by the way.

According to the story, he was never in danger...

"Malkin's Russian advisor and ally of Brisson and Barry, Gennady Ushakov, was also there, but there was not much he could do to help. McQueen relayed to Natalia Malkin that her son had the legal right to get up and leave at any time. But although Malkin said he was never in physical danger, Velichkin was nonetheless pressuring the 20-year-old, preying on his feelings of loyalty to the only team he'd ever known, the town he grew up in and his country."

I don't defend the Russian team besides noting they had a player under contract that they wanted to keep. Any team, anywhere, would "pressure" the player by playing on loyalty, etc.

I just don't feel any sympathy for Malkin. Give your notice and leave like a man.

At 9:12 p.m., August 20, 2006, Blogger Doogie2K said...

Except he couldn't exactly leave at the time; they had his passport, as noted. As soon as he had the opportunity, he did leave, but he couldn't very well go at that time, because they weren't going to let him go unless he signed. That is the big problem with this story.

He's given his notice now, and Metallurg has to suck it up. They're only pitching a legal shit fit because they see an opening without a transfer agreement and they're using Evgeni as their pawn.

At 3:05 a.m., August 21, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It hasn't even been established yet if that two-week notice clause applies to professional sports with its own regulations.

At 6:15 a.m., August 21, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, one more question. Why was Eric Lindros considered a baby when he was fighting for his rights to play where he wanted?

At 12:28 p.m., August 21, 2006, Blogger Doogie2K said...

Because he was demanding to change teams within the same league and refusing to report before he was even drafted. It's not like he was trying to play in another league and not being allowed to go. This would be more analogous to if Oshawa refused to let him go to Quebec/Toronto/New York/Philadelphia than Quebec not wanting to let go of him because they'd drafted him. Similarly, Nik Zherdev is not a baby for wanting go to back to Russia over money, because it's a different league. Greedy, maybe, but not a "baby." If they want to go to another league, then there's not much a team can do but respect the player's wishes. Lindros's refusal to report to Quebec is no different from any other trade demand in any other league: petty and contemptible.

At 6:44 p.m., August 21, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not going to defend any of the parties, but you should take into account one point. Here in Russia it's almost always the club (not the kid's parents) who pays for a kid hockey teaching. Most of the parents in Magnitogorsk alike Russian towns can't afford to spend money on kids coaches, ice-rink, hockey gear, medicine etc. So it's quite natural that Metallurg whould like to get some money back in Malkin case.
And one more thing. As far as I know Metallurg helped Malkin parents to improve family living conditions (to change the flat, to find better job in the region) when Eugeny was in his early teens, cos team's bosses saw that kid was worth putting in money. Surely Velichkin was on a close terms with his best prospect parents ever since. Of cos it's not a reason to be in their place at 3 a.m. trying to make Malkin sign contract. But it explains why they didn't turn him out.

At 2:14 a.m., August 23, 2006, Blogger VK said...

Gutless kid. No respect for lack of character. Give your notice and leave like a man.

Look at this Malkin's interview (april 2006)

Just translate this

"- В "Питтсбурге" уже есть одна молодая звезда - канадец Сидни Кросби. Не боитесь, что вас, легионера, будут искусственно зажимать?

- Мне надо заключить такой контракт, чтобы подобного поворота событий не произошло и чтобы с Кросби я находился в абсолютно равных условиях. Если буду хорошо играть, не хуже канадца, но тот станет проводить больше времени на площадке, чем я, разорву контракт и вернусь в Россию!"

-Pittsburgh already have young star player - canadian Sidney Crosby. Do you afraid that you've got less attention and ice time
than Crosby 'cause you are foreigner?

I should sign contract excluding such situation and putting me in absolutely equal conditions with Crosby .
If I'll show good play, not worse than the Canadian,
but Sid begins to get more ice time than me, I'll break off the contract and I'll return to Russia!"


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