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Author: Alexander Pokachuyev (Moskovsky Komsomolets Newspaper)
Translated By: Sergei Chveitser
Date: 02/01/2006
Evgeni Malkin: The Main Thing is Not To Get Intimidated (Pittsburgh Penguins NHL)

2006 IIHF Winter Olympics

Evgeny Malkin (Pittsburgh Penguins NHL) skating for Team Russia at the U20 World Junior Championships in Vancouver, Canada.
It's not a secret that the Russian Super league has been improving for a while now. Some have said that it's the 2nd best league in the world (next to the NHL of course) and during the lockout, superstars like Jagr, Kovalchuk, Heatley and Nylander chose none other but our championship. The lockout is over and all the stars returned to NHL so our national team is being made up of mostly players from North America. What about the Super league players? 6 players from the Russian championship will be going to the 2006 Olympics (Malkin, Shushinsky, Kharitonov, Kulyash, Sokolov and Korolyuk). It's arguable whether it's a lot or not, but we can discuss what role on the team they will play.

Sokolov? He will most likely be designated as the team's 3rd string goaltender. Kulyash? The purpose of the Dynamo defenseman who last week had an unbelievable game against Ak Bars is unclear. Denis' main weapon is his excellent shot, but the current team has enough players to score from the blue line without him. Korolyuk's call up to replace the injured Zhamnov will most likely force Kozlov to shift to centre and according to the latter, he's not too happy about that. There are many questions that surround this team and one more thing. The general manager of the national team Pavel Bure has already said that the team will not be divided into the first, second (etc) lines. On the bright side, it's obvious that the attacking line of Sushinskh-Kharitonov-Malkin which played together during the Eurotour is already set. Shortly before the start of the Turin games, we had a conversation with the latter.

What can be expected of team Russia at the Olympic games?
E. Malkin: I think we won't disappoint. I promise you that we will do everything in our power and will give everything we've got.

Who do you think will be the hardest opponent in Turin?
E. Malkin: By definition, there are no weak opponents at tournaments like the Olympics. You can't underestimate even the Belarussians, but of course, Canadians and Americans stand out.

Team management is counting on your leadership qualities. Are you ready to lead the team when the going gets tough?
E. Malkin: It's a hard question, but obviously if the team is struggling, you have to take matters into your own hands and lead by example. If something doesn't work, play more responsibly on defense. I think it's time for me to become the leader on the team because after all, I will be playing for Russia for many years to come so if I have the opportunity to take the leading role, why not take advantage of them? Being 19 years old is not an obstacle, everything is in my own hands.

Besides, there are excellent examples right in front of the eyes: young Ilia Kovalchuk and Alexander Ovechkin have already become their teams' top players not only in the NHL, but also on the national team..
E. Malkin: Of course. The main thing is not to get intimidated, stay away from shyness and everything will work out.

Do you regret not leaving for NHL this year? (Evgeni was drafted 2nd overall by Pittsburgh - A.P.)
E. Malkin: No. I'm having a great year in Russia. I like it here and have no problems with anything. I hope I will get more experience and then leave for America next year when I'm ready for the NHL.

What do you think can be considered a positive result for the national team at the Olympics?
E. Malkin: I think getting a medal would be considered as successful, but of course we are only going for the gold.

There is an opinion that it hurts more to finish 2nd than 3rd. In the first case, you lose in the final, but in the 2nd, you win the bronze match...
E. Malkin: It only seems like that when you are on the ice because of emotions, but after a day, you realize that after all, silver is silver.

Opinion - Vladislav Tretiak, 3 time Olympic champion:

It will be tough for the guys from the Super League in Turin. They will mostly be playing against the NHLers, and if they were good enough, they would be playing there themselves. It's no secret that all the best players are in the NHL. Yes, we have Malkin, but he will also be going there, so there's no point in saying that the players in Russia are better. That's the difference between the current team and the old Soviet teams. We played with prepared lines that we took from Spartak, CSKA, Dynamo... That is why we were winning and of course, it would be impossible to use this strategy today.

I think that Alexander Ovechkin is ready to become a leader. I marvel at his game this year in Washington. He seems like he's an extremely interesting player who is hungry for hockey. If God gives, he won't get injured

Written By: Alexander Pokachuyev (Moskovsky Komsomolets)
Translated By:
Sergei Chveitser (

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