Evgeni Malkin hails from Magnitogorsk, a city in the south of Russia. In many ways it's been called the Steel City of Russia. Malkin was drafted to Pittsburgh in 2004, the Steel City of America. He was drafted behind Alex Ovechkin, and he went the team that Sidney Crosby was on, so he's always been in the shadow.
But yesterday he was honored as the Dapper Don sportsman of the year in Pittsburgh.
"It's truly an honor to be the sportsman of the year in the city of champions." [Evgeni Malkin]
The adopted son has fit in well, on and off the ice. From the Penguins logos on he put on his chairs in his home, to his friendships with players like Crosby, Maxime Talbot, and Brooks Orpik,; Malkin has been embraced by his teammates. He's learned and tried his hand at the English language and has been improving himself from a novice to a conversationalist and a guy more than enough to hold his own in the beaking sessions in the lockeroom. He's not a pro, but he tries and has a good attitude, which is all that matters, especially when he occasionally trips up.
[Malkin] gave his acceptance speech in English, and even when he stumbled at one point he was given an ovation.
"Geno" has become a part of the community, and with four more years on his contract, he's not going anywhere anytime soon. The team and fans have gotten a taste of his personality; he's no European prima-donna or a guy to sulk or shy away from his responsibilities.
It's a walking legend that before the 2009 Eastern Conference finals, the coaches made all the players say what they would do to help the team to get to the next level. In broken English, Malkin boldly stated he planned to put the team on his back and take them to the Stanley Cup finals. There were a lot of laughs at the time, but in the four game sweep Geno scored 6 goals (2 of them game winners) and added 3 assists and really did lead the way past the Carolina Hurricanes, en route to a Conn Smythe winning post-season performance.
Evgeni Malkin, due to his language barrier, is often seen as a wildcard. He's an observer, drinking it all in, but not one to always talk. Actions speak louder than words, and Malkin has always seen to do most of his talking on the ice.
By his own lofty standards, it's been a down year for Malkin, who "only" has 70 points in 63 games. But this year is not over and the Steel City treasure isn't through. He'll be there were it counts, putting us all on his back and we'll all enjoy the ride.
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