Evgeni Malkin says he’s not coming home, as he sends his regrets and resignation to Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the Russian Super League.
The Russian phenom is expected to sign with the Pittsburgh Penguins and begin his NHL career. Russian law apparently allows you to leave your employer within two weeks of written notice, so with Malkin having sent his regards by fax, somewhere within the next fourteen days one assumes the young Russian will surface.
In something akin to a Le Carre novel, the young hockey player disappeared from his Russian team’s training camp in Finland and hasn’t bee seen since.
Somewhat similar to those wild days of the Stastny’s cloak and dagger defections, Malkin has been rumoured to be anywhere from Eastern Canada to the Pittsburgh suburbs.
Malkin is not the only Russian player to say farewell by fax or letter this summer, draft picks Alexei Mikhnov (Edmonton Oilers) and Andrei Taratukhin (Calgary Flames) also sent such letters to the Yaroslavl Lokomotiv team of the Russian Super League this summer in order to join their NHL teams.
A situation which is stirring some serious feelings of distrust between the Russian hockey federation and the NHL. Perhaps leading to a new cold war in relations between the two sides.
The Canoe website had this report from Associated Press on all the intrigue, while the Toronto Star provided this look into the situation.
Malkin files resignation
Bykov: We live in a free country
By ALAN ROBINSON
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Evgeni Malkin has filed a letter of resignation with his Russian Super League team, a procedural move necessary for the star forward to sign with the Pittsburgh Penguins and begin his NHL career.
Malkin remained hidden Wednesday, four days after abruptly leaving the Metallurg Magnitogorsk team on Saturday after it arrived for training camp in Helsinki, Finland.
The 20-year-old Malkin, arguably the top player in the world not currently in the NHL, is believed to have flown to Canada and remained there since, with no indication he has arrived in Pittsburgh for the start of the Penguins' training camp in three weeks.
Metallurg coach Dave King, the former Columbus Blue Jackets coach, told a Toronto all-sports radio station the team had received a fax from Malkin resigning. Russian law permits an employee - even an athlete under contract - to leave his job by giving two weeks' written notice.
Described by Metallurg's general director as a "Russian treasure," Malkin has stayed out of sight since leaving the team. But his North American agents, J.P. Barry and Pat Brisson of CAA Sports, said he was safe, though they would not say where he is.
"J.P. and I have been in constant touch with Evgeni, as we would do with any player, but especially with Evgeni," Brisson said Wednesday.
He would not speculate when Malkin might emerge.
Malkin, who starred for Russia's Olympic team in the Turin Olympics in February, recently agreed to stay with Metallurg for one more season. His previous contract was through 2008.
Malkin's acquaintances have suggested he was under considerable pressure and duress to agree to the deal, and it was reported in Russia the renegotiated contract wasn't completed until a 3 a.m. bargaining session.
The NHL has not publicly stated its support for Malkin and his desire to play in the league, but deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league believes any player should have the right to choose where he wants to play as long as he is legally free to do so.
Malkin isn't the only Russian player invoking the letter of resignation as a way to leave a team and play in the NHL. Draft picks Alexei Mikhnov (Edmonton Oilers) and Andrei Taratukhin (Calgary Flames) also sent such letters to the Yaroslavl Lokomotiv team of the Russian Super League this summer in order to join their NHL teams.
Metallurg general director Gennady Velichkin has rebuked Malkin for leaving and is threatening to sue the Penguins if they sign him. His hardline stance is not shared by Russian national team coach Slava Bykov, who said Malkin was welcome to join the national team at any time.
"I think you can't blame him until you know what exactly happened when he was signing the contract," Bykov told Moscow's Sport-Express Daily newspaper. "There is only one thing I can't understand with this story with Malkin. We live in a free and democratic country, and anybody could leave it at any moment."
Malkin must agree to a contract with Pittsburgh before training camp, but the deal likely will be concluded with minimal negotiating. The NHL labour agreement established an entry-level salary of $984,200 US, and Malkin will sign a contract identical to that signed by Washington Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin. Ovechkin was the No. 1 pick in the 2004 draft, and Malkin was No. 2.
Ovechkin's three-year deal included $850,000 in Schedule A bonuses and $2 million in Schedule B bonuses. The bonuses include those for games played, finishing in the top 10 in goals, assists and points and winning a major award such the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year. Ovechkin won that award last season.
***Translation please*** for those dedicated to finishing their articles, я увольнение is basically I quit in Russian, thanks for playing along!