Pittsburgh Penguins star, Evgeny Malkin, says KHL side, Metallurg Magnitogorsk, will be his only action if the player is forced to move due to the potential NHL lockout.
Talking to Sport-Express newspaper, Malkin said reports in the Russian media claiming he has agreed a deal with another KHL side, CSKA Moscow, are groundless.
“The lockout hasn’t been announced, so it’s too early to talk about anything,” he stressed. “There’s an agreement, about which everybody knows. We’re talking about Magnitogorsk. But again, it’s too early to make any statements as the contract hasn’t been signed yet. Let's wait for the news from overseas first.”
Malkin was born in Magnitogorsk and spent three seasons with local team Metallurg, before moving to the NHL in 2006.
“It’s my home town,” the 26-year-old explained. “I wouldn’t want to go to another club and thus create a negative aura around me. After all, it’s clear what the fans will be saying if I opt for another club instead of Metallurg. And so I will play in my home town where I have many friends.”
The Pittsburgh Penguins man was also asked about the lockout plans of star-teammate, Sydney Crosby.
“It's hard to judge,” Malkin said. “Of course, he won’t go in the very beginning and monitor the situation. In general, both sides have made some concessions in the talks between the NHL and the Players’ Association, so, in my view, the lockout won’t last for the whole season. In this regard, many Canadians and Americans will wait till the last before going to play to another country. After all, they are afraid to travel that far from home.”
“But Russia has the best league in the world after the NHL, so the priority will, of course, be given to the KHL… But again, Crosby will wait till the last,” he added.
Metallurg’s vice-president, Gennady Velichkin, earlier said that the team are eager to invite Crosby to Magnitogorsk, with Malkin named the middleman in the possible negotiations.
The financial differences between the NHL and the players have to be settled by September 15 otherwise the lockout will be inevitable.