Please excuse the google-translate (and a big thanks to our friend EmilyB from Japers Rink for the link), but Evgeni Malkin had some thoughts about Ilya Kovalchuk opting to leave the NHL for the comforts of Russia.
"Ilya at this stage chosen this path, and I have no right to condemn him - said Malkin agency" R-Sport. "Yesterday, [Ilya] congratulated me on my birthday, we are pleased to have communicated. I only support him in this decision. Ilya, his family wants at the moment to move to Russia. Why not? [It's] early to talk about the fact that this may become a trend. Rather, the exception to the rule.
The exception to the rule indeed, and a quote from Malkin that very much sounds like a guy who just signed an eight year, $76 million dollar contract to stay in Pittsburgh until 2021-22. Malkin has been very public in wanting to stay in the NHL and continue playing hockey on this side of the world. There were whispers around Pittsburgh that Malkin, while enjoying his time in the KHL during the NHL lockout last fall, also realized there were aspects about his home (more travel, lesser accommodations, more fan recognition and pressure) that made him appreciate all the NHL has to offer, specifically his situation in Pittsburgh where he's the #2 guy behind Sidney Crosby.
Lest Penguins fans get too nervous about Malkin defecting a few years into his contract like Kovalchuk did, he offered this reassuring, google-translated quote
"For others I can not speak - [they can] speak for themselves. I'm happy to stay in the NHL at this stage of life - now that's my priority. [A] lot can happen, but as long as I feel comfortable in America. As they say, the good from the good not looking. I won the Stanley Cup with the Penguins, won [m]any individual awards. They give me a lot of playing time, I have an excellent relationship with our partners and coaches. Why should I look for something else, and so I have everything."
The good from the good not looking, indeed, Geno. Go Pens.