Malkin raves about “special” opportunity to play in Russia

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Perhaps jumping back into NHL action would have been ideal for defending Hart Trophy winner Evgeni Malkin, yet Yahoo’s Nick Cotsonika caught up with him (and his mentor Sergei Gonchar) to see the bright side of the lockout.

Specifically, Malkin gets the chance to play close to home and for Metallurg Magnitogorsk, the team that helped him develop his all-world skills.

“It is special,” Malkin said, with Gonchar translating. “It is something that [does] not happen very often.”

Like Tyler Seguin in the Swiss A-League, Malkin is starting to heat up in the KHL, scoring nine points in his last three games.

It’s not just the quality of play that’s improving, though.

Gonchar explains how far the NHL’s most prominent overseas competitor has come since the last lockout.

“Playing over here, it’s much more enjoyable now than it was,” Gonchar said. “To be honest with you, I’m enjoying it here. For me, it goes either way [if the entire NHL season is canceled]. I like it here. I enjoy my teammates. We have a great team. So I don’t care.”

It doesn’t sound like players such as Malkin and Gonchar are really struggling to make the best of things, then.