We all remember how not-delightful the NHL lockout was. It could’ve been particularly destructive for the league had some of their top Russian players never returned from overseas when it ended, however.
That’s precisely what almost went down according to Penguins star Evgeni Malkin. He tells SovSport, as translated by Igor Kleyner of Capitals blog Russian Machine Never Breaks that he and other superstar Russians like Ilya Kovalchuk, Alexander Ovechkin, and Pavel Datsyuk nearly stayed at home last season.
While Kovalchuk did find a way to return home, Malkin also says the lure of going back to Russia to play there will always be there and it’s something he might consider doing later in his career.
Teams and fans will always have that fear their favorite Russian player will want to return to their roots. Kovalchuk and Jets forward Alex Burmistrov both pulled that off this year.
As for Malkin, unless he pulls a Kovalchuk he won’t be going anywhere soon as his extension with the Penguins kicks in this season and lasts til the end of 2022.