Dave King, the Canadian who now coaches Mannheim in German hockey league, shared his view about Evgeni Malkin's successful start of this season. In 2005 - 2006 he coached Magnitogorsk Metallurg and worked with the Russian forward. "I am following Evgeni's play in the NHL very closely", said King. "I've already seen several games with him this season. I watch Pittsburgh with great pleasure and Malkin's game can bring nothing, but a delight. I realized that he is incredibly talented at the very first team's workout in Magnitogorsk. The Penguins management called me many times when I was coaching Metallurg. I was telling them all the time that Malkin was a player with a capital letter who would help them. Youth, enthusiasm, willingness to improve and, naturally, the highest individual skills, these are the reasons for his current success. I'd like to note that Malkin not only looks great in offence, but he also plays a good defense. The ability to be good in either side of the rink demonstrates his growth as a player."
Is Malkin the best player in the NHL today?
I wouldn't say so, but Evgeni is clearly among the best. Malkin and Ovechkin, in my opinion, are the most interesting stars of the NHL today.
What do you think about the confrontation between Ovechkin and Malkin?
I do not know the whole history of their relationship, but it seems to me that the confrontation is about showing one another who is actually better. The best players always compete among themselves, otherwise they would not have achieved such results. That's why when they both hit the ice, each of them is ready for a real challenge. "Hey, kid, whatever you can do, I can do better", this is their mood.
Did you expect at the time that Malkin would be able to show up so good in the NHL?
Malkin's talent and his abilities were visible with a naked eye, but since then he has gained in absolutely all components of the game. Of course, I am proud that Evgeni, who played for me in Metallurg, is so good in the NHL. But the main merit in establishing him as a player rests with the kid's coaches and the excellent Russian system of training which delivers such talents. Take Kulemin, who played in Metallurg on the same line with Malkin. Nikolai is not as bright yet, he plays in a little conservative and cautious manner, but he will show himself one day. Back to Malkin, one can not mention his desire to work hard.
It was believed that Malkin and Crosby won't be able to to play in one team, that someone eventually will have to be traded to another team.
I had said it before that I did not agree with that. You need to know both players, Malkin is a good guy, a good teammate who first thinks about the team's results and then about his personal stats. Individual ambitions will never outweigh the rest for him. The same can be said about Crosby. That is why they feel very comfortable playing on the same line. No one pulls the blanket.
However Malkin is not so promoted in North America, which craze for Ovechkin and Crosby.
Yes, that's true, you can't call Evgeni a great person to communicate with the press. And the thing is not only the lack of knowledge of English. Simply by his nature he is a modest man, prefers to stay slightly behind the scenes unless its not hockey. On the other hand, Pittsburgh has Crosby who's every step is followed by the journalists. And it helps Malkin, who is not a subject of pressure from the media, he quietly reveals his potential on ice.
Can Malkin win the best scorer of the season and in what other components of the game he can improve?
He is able to win Art Ross in this season already. The main thing is to avoid the injuries. With regard to other components in which he can improve, besided playing in defense (it is good but not perfect), I would name the ability to cope with the physical play imposed by the opponents. The more Malkin will score the more often they'll try to play physical with him. If you remember at the end of last playoffs, where he constantly was pressured physically, he lost a lot of energy and didn't look so bright. He will be pressured physically all the time from now on. Evgeni may have to improve in physical play, becoming stronger in this regard.
At one time Malkin was often compared to Lemieux, can the Russian achieve the same level?
That, in my view, is possible. Malkin is still very young, but with him gaining the experience, he markedly improves. Evgeni learns something new about the NHL every day and he does not cease to learn. He just needs to stay healthy and avoid serious injuries, which was the problem for Mario.
Hey, but what about Patrick Kane? :-)
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