You finally started to communicate with the American press this year. Does the team pushes you to do that?
I communicate, but not without your help... As of the team pushing me? I would not say so. They just help me, the team, the friends. And it is very interesting for me too. And I have to communicate with locals sooner or later.
Who helps you?
Mostly Peter Sikora. He undestands Russian without a problem, and he can speak Russian on above average level. But the other guys are trying to make me feel comfortable and engaged.
And what about the relationship with Sidney Crosby?
I think it's more than just being a teammate. I'd call it friendly. We always keep in touch, communicate. When I went to the All-Star game, he text me and wished me luck.
And how often do you communicate with Lemieux?
I won't say that much, but he comes after the games to the locker room and we chat a bit. "How are you?", "How do you feel?", this kind of talk. He is generally interested in absolutely everything that happens in the team.
Do you know that you are often compared with him? Similar size, something common in the playing style...
Probably we are compared only because of the size, although he is much taller and bigger than me. And as for style... Perhaps, we have some similar features.
What is it?
Maybe a vision of the ice, a good passing, skating, I think. But still every player is different and plays the way only he can play. I myself have never studied or tried to copy Mario. He is a legend, and I am probably just lucky to be similar to him in something.
And what is the main difference between you and Crosby?
We are totally different. He is a faster and more explosive player. I am a little slower. Crosby doesn't have any minuses. Except, maybe, for the wrist and slap shot. Other than that, only pluses. I think I need to work harder to keep in pace with him.
But you are the best scorer in the League. Crosby is behind by a dozen points the entire season. It seems to me that the only reason why Crosby is considered to be a bigger star is your problems in communicating with the American media.
We'll work on it. Although my leadership is largely the result of luck. This year I had way too many secondary assists that were counted, and I have not scored that many goals. It's not like 50 goals.
Everybody gets credit for secondary assists.
I am just a bit more lucky. I didn't count, but I think that Crosby in this year has more primary assists than I do. (SM note: But your correspondent was not that lazy! Evgeny was right, he has 46 primary and 26 secondary assists, while Crosby has 49 and 18 respectively)
Are you saying that in general Crosby is more helpful to the team?
At the moment, probably yes, because he can talk in the locker room, can jump-start the team.
Have you tried a language of gestures?
I explain in my native Russian. When I swear, I switch to Russian. But I also try to be useful for the team, so I wouldn't say that he is much more useful than me. Just by the fact that he can speak English, he can do what I can't.
Did you teach Crosby Russian?
He knows the b-word for sure. Well, he can also say "hello, how are you." He is very curious in general, everything is interesting to him, not just hockey. He asks about Russia a lot.
Does your team have a habit of visiting each other? On holidays for example?
On this day, when they eat turkey (SM note: Thanksgiving), we had a team dinner. We all gathered at the restaurant. I once invited the guys to my house. Crosby was busy though, he couldn't make it. Most of the time we go somewhere to eat with three or four people together.
Is it difficult to adjust to American life?
So far I don't have any problems yet, but probably there could be some still ahead. I feel quite comfortable in Pittsburgh.
You have recently and finally bought a house in Pittsburgh. Are you getting acclimated?
Yes, I do. My parents came to visit me in early February. Now they can stay here the whole year. Will be easier, of course.
Is it a big house?
It is nice. Come visit me when you'll be here to write a report and I'll show.
What do you do off the ice?
I play pool and go fishing.
And how's your pool game?
It's fine (laughs).
And where fish in Pittsburgh takes bait the best?
I do love to fish in Russia. And in America I went once. Caught a big carp and catfish. We have some big lake not far away (SM note: perhaps Malkin was referring to lake Erie, one of the Great Lakes).
You had a restaurant in Magnitogorsk. Is it still open?
We leased it. Mom did not want to deal with it.
Is it still the same prison restaurant?
Mom said that the name and inside interior has changed a little. Although she hasn't been there for a long time. When I was there, it was called "VIP zone".
And where this idea came from? Why criminal bias?
We just sat with friends one day, talking, for some reason began to discuss the restaurant business. The idea sprouted, went on, we began to think about different possibilities, and I liked that one. The interior was a bit funny; the pictures from the movie "The Gentlemen of Fortune" on the walls. Other than that, nothing special.
What kind of music do they play? Shanson? Mikhail Krug?
Not just Krug, modern music as well.
You can say that the French restaurant in Magnitogorsk wouldn't work.
Who knows, no one ever tried. Or maybe they'd love the French cuisine. Although from what I saw, it is mostly Russian and Ukrainian food that is popular. There is, however, one good Italian restaurant. In my restaurant the menu was the usual, Russian cousine: pelmeni, shish kebab, nothing special particularly.
Do you keep track of the news from home? The crisis certainly affects Magnitogorsk.
Yes, my father told me that from the plant only about 5,000 were sacked. Not to mention other companies. The plant is huge, the city's major source of income. If the plant is suffering, everyone else does too.
Once upon a time it was the same in Pittsburgh.
It was a long time ago. The steel mills are closed, and now it is more like a business center. Although, perhaps, I did the right thing signing the contract before the crisis. I guessed right, you can say. All in all, I like the city and the team. I am glad that I will remain here. Five years, however, is an average term. We will see how the economy in the future will emerge.
Your relationship with Ovechkin was one of the main themes of the season. But certainly in Russia many dream of Olympic team of Russia, in which you'd play together.
We have already played with Ovechkin at the Olympics and World Championship (SM note: in 2005). In Turin, however, we have not played together the entire tournament. But it was going well, and now we have grown both as players. I think it would be cool.
How easy it would be for the two of you to click?
I think after two or three training sessions together we'll remember how it was before. When you play at this level, it is necessary to get used to everything. In Pittsburgh I sometimes play with three or four different partners. And when you go with such a professional as Ovechkin, there shouldn't be any problems. Plus we already spent a lot of time playing together and know each other perfectly. I always try to watch the games on TV when possible, especially our main rivals, so I never lose the sight of Ovechkin. I don't follow up with their conference much though.
You two seemed to have proved this year that the Russians don't have mercy to one another playing in the NHL. Ready to fight with anyone.
Of course, everyone wants to prove something, to achieve something in life. I want to win the Stanley Cup and the individual race. So he will not get any favors in this sense from me.
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