|Author: Karen Price (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)||Date: 06/22/2004
|Malkin initially denied entry to U.S.|
|Russian center Evgeni Malkin will no doubt be a little bit nervous when the NHL
Entry Draft begins Saturday, but maybe not as much as he will be this morning.
That's when the No. 2 ranked player in the draft and his family will arrive at
the United States Embassy in Moscow to pick up their entry visas into the country.
After being rejected Friday, they probably won't be happy until the paperwork
is in their hands and they're on the plane to New York.
"He is very excited but at the same time, very nervous," agent Dmitri
Goryachkin said Monday. "We had a little problem with the U.S. Embassy
in Moscow. It was a nightmare."
Goryachkin said that all the paperwork necessary for Malkin, his parents and
brother to enter the country was submitted by late May. The Malkins' interviews
at the embassy were scheduled for Friday, but when they arrived there after
traveling for three hours, they were told that some of the paperwork had either
been misplaced or was lost.
None of them had been granted a visa.
"They were told that because of tighter security, the embassy could not
(grant them visas)," Goryachkin said. "Obviously, his mother was crying.
It was not a pretty sight."
Goryachkin, who works for IMG, resubmitted all the documents over the weekend
and the paperwork landed in the hands of Nicholas Namba. A hockey and general
sports fan, Namba recognized IMG as the agency that represented Wayne Gretzky
and Tiger Woods. Goryachkin believes it helped.
Late yesterday afternoon, or almost midnight in Russia, Goryachkin was told
that the visas had been granted and that all the Malkin family had to do was
pick them up on the way to the airport this morning.
"He helped us greatly," Goryachkin said of Namba. "We were very
grateful of the staff who considered all the circumstances and were able to
help the family to enjoy one of brightest moments in an athlete's career."
Malkin, 17, whom the Penguins are expected to draft at the No. 2 overall position,
and his family are due to arrive in New York this afternoon before continuing
on to Raleigh, N.C., where the draft will be held this weekend.
Malkin skipped the NHL combine in Toronto last month, not because of visa problems
but because his team, Metallurg Magnitogorsk, was holding postseason training
in Turkey. He has interviews scheduled with 14 different NHL teams before Saturday,
including one with the Penguins on Wednesday.
The Washington Capitals hold the first overall pick and are expected to select
fellow Russian Alexander Ovechkin. However, one NHL head scout who wished to
remain anonymous said yesterday that his team is actively trying to trade up
to draft either first or second. He believes that there are roughly eight other
teams looking to trade up to one of the top two spots.
"They are two pretty special players," he said of Ovechkin and Malkin.
The Chicago Blackhawks, who draft third, confirmed late last week that they
are aggressively trying to acquire the first pick from the Capitals in order
to select Ovechkin.
Karen Price can be reached at email@example.com.
Related Player Profiles: . E.Malkin
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