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Author: Eric Duhatschek (Globe and Mail Newspaper)Date: 12/07/2005
Malkin (Pittsburgh Penguins) boosts Russian juniors

2006 U20 World Junior Championships

Evgeni Malkin answering questions at the NHL Entry Draft after being selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins (Photo is a RussianProspects exclusive)
Russia's chances of winning the world junior hockey championship received a huge boost Wednesday, when it was learned that 19-year-old Evgeni Malkin would play on the team after all.

Malkin, the second player chosen in the 2004 entry draft behind fellow Russian Alexander Ovechkin, was the subject of an internal tug-of-war between two factions in the Russian Ice Hockey Federation.

Though just a teenager, Malkin is leading the Super Elite league in goals (13) and points (31) and has his team, Metallurg Magnitogorsk, in first place overall.

Malkin is thought to be the best player in the world not already playing in the National Hockey League and his presence on the Russian junior national team should have the same impact as Sidney Crosby's presence would on the Canadian junior national team.

As a result, there was pressure on the federation to enter Malkin in three separate international tournaments - the Baltica Cup, which begins this weekend in Moscow, plus the world junior and the 2006 Winter Olympics - that will take place in less than three months.

Malkin's team argued that he was too young to play so much high-level hockey in such a short time frame and wanted the federation to exempt him from one of the competitions.

Malkin's name was not on the original world junior roster released by the federation, but today, his coach, Dave King, confirmed that Malkin was selected for the 2006 tournament, which will be played in Vancouver, starting Dec. 26.

"He is very excited about going," said King, in an interview from

"He is very excited about going," said King, in an interv Magnitogorsk. "He's just a great kid, with lots of enthusiasm for the game." or the game." What changed from the time Malkin's name was left off the original world junior roster a few days ago, until now, when he was included on the team?

According to King, when the original roster was submitted, there was a line at the bottom of the press release that read, 'we hope to bring the Malkin situation to a po

"When I saw that a couple of days ago, I recognized that we were going to lose him to the world junior," said King. "I'm happy for him, because "I'm happy for him, because he wants to play, and it's great for the hockey fans, because he is so good right now. I just think it's a lot of hockey for him to play in a very short period of time. He's got Baltica Cup, then world junior, then the Olympic Games and then we have to play too and try to win a cham highs for a young guy, so we'll see if he can deal with it all. I hope he can." deal with it all. I hope he can."

King, who previously coached Canada's world junior team to a championship in 1982, or the first time Canada sent an all Malkin's presence in the line-up, "gives the Russian team a real serious "gives the Russian team

"Even without Malkin, it was considered to be a very good team. Russia it was considered to be a very good team. Russia has a strong group of '85 and '86-born players, a lot of whom are making contributions in the Super League this year. They're not just extras on the team, they're core players. Malkin's presence is just icing on the cake. They're now a real threat to win it all.

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