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Author: Pavel Lysenkov (Soviet Sport Newspaper)
Translated By: Eugene Belashchenko
Date: 08/15/2006
Sergei Issakov: It’s like Evgeny is under hypnosis (Evgeny Malkin Pittsburgh Penguins NHL)

2006 Russian Super League

Evgeny Malkin (Pittsburgh Penguins NHL) skating for Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) against Ak Bars during the 2005-06 season.
Soviet Sport newspaper correspondent spoke to Sergei Issakov, who until very recently represented the interests of Evgeny Malkin. Then the forward returned to his old agent Gennady Ushakov. Issakov, as an independent expert gave his opinion and commentary regarding the situation with Malkin.
I knew regarding Malkin's plans back on Friday night – acknowledged Sergei Issakov.

This was a premeditated act?
S. Issakov:
Probably. Malkin can't just run away without his agents, right?

Malkin's visa was already prepared though.
S. Issakov: Malkin has already for a long time had a Canadian visa. Even since before the signing of a new deal with Metallurg. So, he ran away, made that decision. I just don't understand one thing – why sign a new agreement with Metallurg? Making some kind of promises...Malkin told me that he had for a very long time been persuaded by Metallurg's management. The negotiations ended at his house at 2:30am. The strongest pressure was applied on Malkin and Evgeny could not withstand it.

What was the shape of this pressure?
S. Issakov: I did not ask him to elaborate. But, you understand, that Metallurg's management could have easily found better things to do than to try to persuade Malkin into the late hours of the night. Maybe some specific clauses were added to the deal. One of them probably restricted him from playing in the NHL this season. Now, the club's management can take advantage of this clause.

Metallurg's general manager Gennady Velichkin already stated that his club will file a lawsuit against Pittsburgh.
S. Issakov: Yeah? Well, that is the right thing to do....On Friday night I was sitting in a car with Malkin. He told me that he planned to run away. I spent a half an hour trying to dissuade him from this act. I did this because I believe in ethics. If Malkin signed this unfortunate contract – whether he was made or persuaded, he still did it – then he needs to fulfill it's terms – not running away to the NHL, but staying in his home town of Magnitogorsk.
I get the impression that Malkin wasn't himself. I never seen him like that. After Evgeny left our agency, he became a different person who makes unreasonable decisions and doesn't understand what he is doing. An agent needs to be there to give him a correct advice. But what is being done by the agency – before it was called IMG – but now? – they are ruining the guy. There will be lawsuits and that will reflect on Malkin's mental state and will interfere with his NHL debut.

Metallurg improved the conditions of his contract. His parents tried to convince their son – his father really wanted his son to stay in Russia. But his agents stayed the course. That is not right. It's not 1989, when Alexander Mogilny ran away to Buffalo. Malkin could have come to Metallurg's management and said: 'Guys, I am not going to sign a new deal'. He could have taken advantage of our 'interesting' laws and given his resignation notice and be free in just two weeks.

Malkin already signed it?
S. Issakov: I don't know – I didn't ask.

The situation looks quite foolish, even if not for the financial speculation, when a player signs a contract in Russia to get more money out of the NHL, since Pittsburgh is offering Malkin a maximum possible rookie contract.
S. Issakov: Of coruse! NHL is an open league where all the amounts are public information. There is a rule that a rookie can't have a salary more than 983 thousand dollars and you can't argue with that. There could be bonuses, but you have to earn them. What is there to discuss? Malkin would not have been able to earn more across the ocean than what was offered (by Metallurg). The first contract is the first contract. It is for three years and it is two way...Malkin's decision was very foolish. I believe that he is under some sort of a spell.

Do you think he is manipulated by his agents or Pittsburgh's management?
S. Issakov: Of course his agents. Yes, Pittsburgh wants that Malkin would make it there. But it doesn't exert pressure. Unlike agents, who want to make their percentages from the player's contract.

When I worked with Malkin, I used to tell him: 'Zhenya, decide for yourself. If you want to go to the NHL, we can do it so you can sign a contract with Pittsburgh. If you want to stay in Metallurg, no problem. Everything was on the table for him. Now it turns out that Malkin was simply stolen. You need to do your job in a civil manner. Sign a deal and go to the side. Or there will be unpleasant games...Where did Malkin run off to? To whom? Does he even know?

At the airport he was met by a person, who was not Gennady Ushakov.
S. Issakov: Well, yes. Ushakov and his partner Dmitry Goryachkin were in Moscow. On Friday night I saw them in one of the restaurants. Malkin was with them. I thin they were discussing the details of his departure. By the way Velichkin already called Ushakov and started to scream at him. In return, Ushakov responded: 'I would have preferred if Malkin stayed – I would have earned more money. I don't know anything about this!'.

Metallurg offered Malkin probably no less than what he was offered in North America?
S. Issakov: Metallurg gave Malkin a very comfortable contract. No one in Russia makes that kind of money with the exception of Alexei Morozov in Ak Bars. But Zhenya had a great will to play in the NHL. And that is fine. Our Alex Ovechkin, with whom I work, also wanted to go to North America. Also did Andrei Markov and Zhenya Nabokov... All of our clients moved from Russia to the NHL in a civil manner. But why sign another contract? Now everyone has a headache, and I don't know what will happen with Malkin.

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