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Kingerski: Emotional Malkin vs. Pragmatic Penguins

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Pittsburgh Penguins, Ron Hextall, Evgeni Malkin

This is getting ugly. The Pittsburgh Penguins’ attempt to sign Evgeni Malkin has taken an emotional turn, and that cannot be good.

Emotions cloud judgment, facts, and logic. Emotions are the antithesis of wisdom. Emotions usually lead to regrettable actions.

PHN can confirm that the sticking point is the average annual value of a contract, which is tied to its length. The Penguins want a three-year deal, but cannot meet Malkin’s overall salary asks in that span. The team has resisted making it a four-year agreement, which would raise its total value but could make the AAV work for both.

And so here we are.

This is a business. Plain and simple. If it were not a business, Jaromir Jagr might be in a Penguins uniform. If it weren’t a business, Marc-Andre Fleury could hang around until he’s 50, cracking wise and playing pranks.

Emotion is great on the ice. Emotion doesn’t work upstairs.

Thursday, Ron Hextall sought to clarify his comments from a day earlier, when he agreed that he wasn’t as optimistic about signing Malkin as he was Kris Letang.

“I wasn’t confident in Kris (Letang re-signing) the day before, either. That’s kind of how these things work,” Hextall said. ” … We’ve said right from the start that we’d like to bring him back, and I strongly believe that he wants to come back.”

A few days later, the public scene sounds more like a lovers’ quarrel. Things have grown tense rather than optimistic.

Hextall, president of hockey operations Brian Burke and FSG ownership do not have any obligation to placate emotions.

Malkin hinted that he wanted the respect and affirmation of a valuable contract on Breakup Day in May, when he dismissed the idea of a low, team-friendly deal. And with 72 hours until free agency, it appears the process is coming to a head.

Pragmatic Pittsburgh Penguins

Evgeni Malkin must understand the situation. He’s about to be 36 years old. Major knee surgery. Better than average 5v5 production but below-average defensive stoppage.

He’s one of the best when he is on his game, but age is catching up with him, whether he likes it or not.

There’s always the option to take a breather and see what is on the market. We suspect that process would be beneficial to the Penguins. There is not a more perfect fit. Short of an emotional play, how many teams will pay Malkin for four years, and give him a premium dollar?

Pull back and let the market tell Malkin where he stands. That was my contention about the Penguins’ contract talks a week ago. Kris Letang came to the middle, and then some, to get a deal done. He was rewarded with a risky six-year term.

Letang is in great shape and played 78 games last season.

Malkin is not and has not played a full season in recent memory. To hand a player whose health is declining a four-year deal would be bad business. It would be emotional.

Hextall is not emotional. The Penguins have probably taken the loyalty factor as far as they can. It has thus far prevented them from re-signing Rickard Rakell, Evan Rodrigues, and final decisions on whether to give qualifying offers to prospective free agents Kasperi Kapanen and Danton Heinen.

“Hopefully, we can lock (Malkin) in and then kind of go from there. See what we have left (in salary-cap space), and then work from there,” said Hextall.

Malkin and Hextall are still dancing. It is impeding the Penguins’ ability to put together the best team. Malkin obviously is hurt, emotionally. Stark realizations never come easy. And unless someone convinces him of that, this process looks like it will have an unhappy ending.

Emotion creates regret. Perhaps we’ll all get a good look if Malkin indeed plays against Kris Letang and the Pittsburgh Penguins next season, as his Instagram post joked.

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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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Rob
Rob
1 month ago

I wonder also if Hextall has a backup plan to replace him at center.

Dean
Dean
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob

I am sure he has at least 5 and prioritized.

Irish Hammer
Irish Hammer
1 month ago
Reply to  Dean

They’ve had plans. Like that clown Sullivan said, ” The core can still play, but changes are needed” ? Really? With your core, you can’t win a playoff series in 4 straight years. Your getting older, softer and slower! Changes? You should have started 4 yrs ago. Look at Blackhawks now.

Stephen Powanda
Stephen Powanda
1 month ago

Malkin is soon 36 and is hurt a lot and needs to accept the terms or tell the Pens he is moving on. He made 9.5 million for years.If he stays I’ll root for Malkin and if he doesn’t I won’t. Maybe Trocheck maybe someone else but eventually it is time to move on.

Alan Smith
1 month ago

Love the guy! Not the same these days! Got to make room for other contracts!

joe CURSI
joe CURSI
1 month ago

I loves me some Geno! Bottom line is that the TEAM played better when he wasn’t there.

Irish Hammer
Irish Hammer
1 month ago
Reply to  joe CURSI

Joe, how dare you state facts! Now the Yinzers will be mad at you. I want to win. Not make playoffs? I would like to win a couple of series. I want me 4 sons and grandsons ( they love Pens & Steelers) that go to a lot of games see winning teams. Not become Blackhawks or Red Wings.

Phil
Phil
1 month ago
Reply to  Irish Hammer

Your way off in delusion land. Making the playoffs matters. You can’t win the cup if you dont first make the playoffs! It’s hard to make the playoffs in the NHL it’s even harder to win in the NHL playoffs. Every team that makes the playoffs they are all capable of winning the cup. It’s the toughest playoffs in professional sports. I been reading your vilifying comments. How about supporting your team. You keep saying the Blackhawks! They were done five years ago. Several bad trades like panarin cost them. Also Hossa early retirement more bad trades, toews missing a… Read more »

David
David
1 month ago

If Geno leaves he will regret it — even if he gets his money. IMO, Sign Rakell NOW. Let the chips fall.

Bob
Bob
1 month ago
Reply to  David

Exactly! The most intelligent statement I’ve heard lately!

RYAN
RYAN
1 month ago
Reply to  David

Rakell scored like 4 goals with the pens, didn’t he? So throw $6 a year at him NOW? Yep…classic yinzer there

Last edited 1 month ago by RYAN
Alan Smith
1 month ago
Reply to  RYAN

Took the direst hit I saw the entire playoffs! Kind of like a Jake looking for a pass or rebound! Give him a season or two he might be a star!

Accountant
Accountant
1 month ago
Reply to  Alan Smith

A slight charging was the dirtiest hit in the playoffs?

Mark Fisher
Mark Fisher
1 month ago

A Philly hack refusing to sign a Pittsburgh icon. That’ll go over well. #SignGeno.

Frank
Frank
1 month ago

Malkin is an emotional guy. It shows on the ice. Sometimes his play makes you wonder if it is the same guy from game to game. He is/was a great one. To a degree he is entitled to some emotions and pouting. That is who he is. But Hextall has an obligation to the franchise and to fans who have shelled out milliions (many of which went into the pocket of Geno). Malkin has an option . .. that does not include the “nobody loves me” approach . . . and it is free agency. Thanks a ton for an… Read more »

William Maloni
William Maloni
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank

I suspect the Caps and Rangers would love to have him.

Rangers media would eviscerate him, if he has a bad year; he would be better in DC when Ovie could cover for him.

Frank
Frank
1 month ago
Reply to  William Maloni

No doubt those two teams would like to add him. So would another half dozen. But like the Penguins all will do so within there financial capabilities. Some may have more than the Penguins . . . and that my friend is what UFA status is all about. No need to get emotional. This is not the fourth grade debate about who likes who better than others. It is about millions of dollars over multiple years. So instead of sulking and stamping your feet play the UFA card. Sounds like it may not be where you want however. As the… Read more »

Bob
Bob
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank

I think you can do better looking for teams who want to unload salaries than sign free agents

Bob
Bob
1 month ago
Reply to  William Maloni

Maybe Malkin and Ovechkin can retire together on the same team! 😂😂

kingpuck
kingpuck
1 month ago

One of the rawest, Direct and on point articles I have read in a while. Great work!

Crazyhorse87
Crazyhorse87
1 month ago

Malkin says he’s a rich guy, the Pens gave you a lot of that richness, at 36, he knows he’s prone to injuries the last few years, so give the team a break. The injuries and the age factor still made him tons of money, be realistic and do one for the team. He’s nowhere near his past performance and he won’t get any better, 4 first round exits can attest to that. He knows the team needs help, Letang did the team his part, throw out that ego and get real, every year becomes a large gamble.

Bob
Bob
1 month ago
Reply to  Crazyhorse87

Yeah remember each of the last couple years he said at the beginning of the seasons after injuries he feels good and ready to perform at top level? Yeah right!

David
David
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob

Although he only played 41 games and was -10, Geno did average 1.02 pts/game this past season.

RYAN
RYAN
1 month ago
Reply to  Crazyhorse87

So if you’re giving out credit for first round exits…you better have more people on that list to blame than Malkin. That is 100% crap. Start with crosby and Sullivan…and expand from there.

Accountant
Accountant
1 month ago
Reply to  Crazyhorse87

The last 2 exits were all goaltending. Malkin had 6 points in 7 games, and also didnt get injured.

He also has 20 goals in 41 games, 40 goal pace. Less than 20 guys scored 40 this year.

He misses a lot of reg season games, but had 5 points in 4 games against the islanders year ago on one leg.

There is also no one in free agency that can replace that. Trochek? Scored 21 goals this year, but took 40 more games than Malkin to do it.

Last edited 1 month ago by Accountant
Kathy
Kathy
1 month ago

Most all the hockey players are getting old. So is management 🙄 Stop playing games and get to the point, times a wasting

Kathy
Kathy
1 month ago

If Malkin stays, if he goes, I’ll still be his fan. Y’all do what you want

Fredrick
Fredrick
1 month ago

Sign him to 4 or even 5 years. Move him to winger which would be a little bit better on his body. He still has one of the most dangerous shots. Sign Trochek at Center.

Trade a pick and Zucker to anywhere we can and sign Malkin for 6 million per. It’s .5 million more than Zucker and again if we are going to keep Zucker at 5.5 million per season and he is always injured I’m pretty sure we can make an exception for Malkin at 6.

RYAN
RYAN
1 month ago
Reply to  Fredrick

That is most sensible comment on the whole thread. Malkin is and should take a big pay cut…but he’s not responsible for taking $4.5 mil per when there’s so much of Rutherford’s dead weight having around. Elephant in the room.

Tim Curtis
Tim Curtis
1 month ago

Move on from Geno! The Penguins have paid him very well considering how many games he’s missed due to injury! He is injury prone and at times disappears from the ice. He was at one time one of the top 5-7 hockey players in the world, but not any more. Frankly, I’m tired of his wildly inconsistent effort on the ice. Bid him farewell!

Bob
Bob
1 month ago
Reply to  Tim Curtis

Also his stupid retaliatory penalties and cross ice passes broken up and intercepted for breakaways. He doesn’t have the smarts or hockey sense like Sid!

Mike Kirkell
Mike Kirkell
1 month ago

I hope he leaves and they get Trotchek to replace him. First of all, Trotchek had 3 goals against the Rangers in the playoffs while playing with actual top six talent in Svetchnikov and Necas. Oh sure, Malkin had three goals and three assists, but he was a liability at 5 on 5 being on ice with a goalie in net for (checks notes) 8 goals for and 2 goals against while playing almost the entire series with a pair of guys who wouldn’t be in the top 9 on a high end playoff team. So clearly Trotchek is an… Read more »

Mike Kirkell
Mike Kirkell
1 month ago

Joke aside, Hextall’s position is perfectly reasonable. And like any free agent, Malkin wanting to feel wanted is perfectly reasonable. If he walks, so be it. The Pens will survive and make the playoffs. And, I suspect with a full summer to train (after no training last year due to the new injury) and a pair of actual top 6 wingers flanking him and actually taking doing some (or most) of the line’s dirty work, we’ll be reading a lot of articles about another Malkin “comeback” season. Probably all for the best.

Bob
Bob
1 month ago

Seeing he’s only played half of the last 3 seasons and collected his full salary it’s time to move on and find someone who can play most of a full season.

Sjf928
Sjf928
1 month ago

I think J. T. Miller resigns with Vancouver. Maybe if Malkin walks they could try for Bo Horvat.

RYAN
RYAN
1 month ago

So this is “pragmatic”…but signing a defensemen to 42 was “not emotional”?? That’s what we’re saying?
Is not trading some of 6 horribly overpaid guys on the cap yet – even if you have to eat some – also “pragmatic”

Last edited 1 month ago by RYAN
Greg
Greg
1 month ago

Great Article. Injuries Suck! I’ve worked at keeping myself in shape and have a telehealth meeting tomorrow am. An injury just won’t heal heal. 1+ years and I didn’t make 9.5 mil. #71 needs to realize, he’s older and injury prone, if he wants to play in the Burgh he may need to accept 3 years, keep in condition to avoid injury, and actually chase and grab Grab Lord Stanley by the bottom and lift him once more and go out with dignity. not worrying about who thinks what of him but focusing on his game and what he can… Read more »

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