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Evgeni Malkin Appreciation Post, From Daring Origins to 1000th Game

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Pittsburgh Penguins, Evgeni Malkin

CHICAGO — An NHL career that traces its origins to slipping away from his Russian team in a Finnish airport and hiding for days while a manhunt ensued reached a momentous milestone Sunday when Evgeni Malkin played in his 1000th NHL game.

“I don’t know where to begin. You know, we sometimes marvel at what he’s able to accomplish on the ice,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “He’s just one of the more dominant players in the league … we’ve seen him at his very best through some of the Stanley Cup runs. He’s been just such a big part of the Penguins’ success in his time here. So, it’s hard to single out any one memory.”

Malkin finally began his NHL career at 20 years old, one year later than he wanted. The Pittsburgh Penguins made Malkin the second overall pick in 2004, behind fellow Russian Alex Ovechkin. However, Malkin’s Russian team didn’t want to say goodbye until his agents hatched an elaborate plan to escape.

After he fulfilled his promise to his Russian team to play one more year before going to the NHL, he was forced into hiding for days in Helsinki after being strong-armed into signing another contract to remain in the KHL with Magnitogorsk Metallurg.

His cell phone was disabled. He hid in a small apartment, not daring to peer out the windows. Writer Sam Kassan detailed the ordeal for NHL.com back in 2019.

Now, 17 seasons later, Malkin is an established star playing out his last four-year contract with three Stanley Cup rings and millions in career earnings in tow.

It’s been a wild ride for Malkin.

It began with a bang, too.

In his first game, he scored his first NHL goal. It wasn’t a beauty as he poked a rebound through Hall of Fame goalie Martin Brodeur, but the Penguins’ two-headed monster with fellow phenom Sidney Crosby was born.

 

Malkin scored goals in his first six NHL games, seven total, including the highlight that went around the world. Malkin announced his true arrival by dancing around and through the New Jersey Devils, then beating Brodeur again.

 

Malkin’s trophy case filled up quickly. The 6-foot-3 center, who current head coach Mike Sullivan often uses “beast mode” to describe, became just the second Pittsburgh Penguins player to win the Calder Trophy (Mario Lemieux). Malkin has also won two Art Ross trophies (2008-09, 2011-12), one Hart Trophy (2011-12), the Conn Smythe (2009), and the Ted Lindsay award (2011-12).

“It’s hard to describe in one word. When he’s at his best, he’s in beast mode,” said Sullivan. “And that is what comes to mind. And that’s usually the comment I have when you guys ask me after the game when he’s at his best, he just has the ability to take a game over.”

He’s also been a four-time All-Star, ranks fourth among active players with 451 goals, and ranks third among active players with 164 power-play goals and 1.17 points per game average.

Evgeni Malkin has won the Stanley Cup three times (2009, 2016, 2017) and has become one of the two or three greatest Russian players in NHL history.

Even Malkin’s parents, especially his father, have become Pittsburgh folk heroes as they cheer and celebrate on the video scoreboard when they come into town.

Sunday is his 1000th game, and he’s riding a three-game points streak improving his career total to 1165 points (451-714-1165). Not bad for a kid who escaped Russia to pursue his NHL dream.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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Mark Fisher
Mark Fisher
14 days ago

Unlike many others, I’m glad they re-signed him!

Pete
Pete
14 days ago

We are lucky to have had 66, 68, 87, AND 71.
Congratulations Geno!

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[…] has been one heck of a run for Evgeni Malkin, who played in his 1,000th game with the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday night in […]

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[…] Pittsburgh Hockey Now: The Recognition Post. It’s been a long road since he fled an airport in Helsinki to pursue his dream. Stanley cups. Fame. Wealth. Family. From daring origins to Evgeni Malkin’s 1000th game. […]

Rob
Rob
13 days ago

Geno has always been a favorite of mine. Such a unique player and he brings so much to the game every night. For someone who is so “injury prone” he has sure accomplished a lot in his career. Also, still one of the best if not THE best second line center in the league. CONGRATS GENO!!!

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[…] Pittsburgh Hockey Now: The Recognition Post. It’s been a long road since he fled an airport in Helsinki to pursue his dream. Stanley cups. Fame. Wealth. Family. From daring origins to Evgeni Malkin’s 1000th game. […]

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[…] Pittsburgh Hockey Now: The Thank You Post. It’s been a long way since he escaped from a Helsinki airport to pursue his dream. Stanley Cups. Fame. Fortune. Family. From bold origins to Evgeni Malkin’s 1000th game. […]

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[…] Pittsburgh Hockey Now: The appreciation post. It’s been a long road since escaping from a Helsinki airport to pursue his dream. Stanley Cups. Hunger. Fortunes. Family. From daring origins to Evgeni Malkin’s 1000th game. […]