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Dear Zhenya!

by Vladimir and Natalia Malkin / Pittsburgh Penguins

This letter first appeared on www.nhl.com/ru in an exclusive with Evgeni Malkin's parents, Natalia and Vladimir Malkin, who expressed their congratulations to their son for having reached 1,000 points in the NHL. It has been translated from its original Russian text.

Dear Zhenya!

When we put you on skates at the age of 3 we could not have even imagined that one day you would amass 1,000 points in the NHL. We weren't thinking about that at all. We just wanted you to grow up healthy and strong.

You were obsessed with hockey. We understood right then that this is your true passion. You were the best at every facet. For several years you wouldn't even go to bed without your hockey stick. And once, when they let you try on a hockey mask, you fell asleep without taking it off.

Do you remember the rink around the bend from our apartment building? Locals would make the ice sheet and put a lock on the electrical switch, but your dad would bend the edge of the box with a crowbar so that you could skate with the lights on. And you ran alongside: "Daddy, daddy, I want to go with you! I want to watch you break the box!" That rink gave you so much; you skated there for so many years. It was where you learned how to play. Nowadays, where that rink used to be there's just a parking lot …

We miss watching your games. They usually start at 5 a.m. for us in Magnitogorsk. Our hearts bleed every time someone bumps you. This year has been especially brutal … In general, there have seemingly been some skirmishes in every game. We text you: "Son, don't pay attention! Don't get so rattled up!" But we understand that you can't play without passion. It all happens because of emotions, and we can't imagine your game without emotions.

We were happy that in Pittsburgh you were immediately accepted as one of their own. It's not just a team, but a big family that you get a lot of support from. We send our thanks to the owners and management of the club, who have helped you even when you had serious injuries. You always recover and get stronger, but this support from Pittsburgh has been very important. As well as the fact that your true friends have remained near. Sergei Gonchar helped you get started in the NHL, and now has become your club's assistant coach. But the relationship between you two hasn't changed, so you know who would always lend a shoulder to lean on.

We travel to Pittsburgh every March and stay until the end of the playoffs. It is our family tradition. The fans take notice. When dad is shown on the scoreboard, he is greeted with applause. And when you scored a hat trick and said in an interview that your mother helped you play so well because she came and prepared Russian borscht, we have since been asked about this recipe in each interview: "What are you feeding Geno that he's playing so well?"

We know how incredible a player you are. How well you see the ice, how different your goals may look. You're capable of skating and stickhandling around entire teams and scoring. There are almost no other players like you. And we say this not just because we are your parents. We know how to evaluate players, too. We know a huge talent when we see one. We see how many teammates you have played with. But whoever the new guys may be, you always find a common ground with them and a way to get on the same page. There is no such thing in the NHL as it used to be in the USSR, where the same five-man unit could play together for 10 years straight. If that were the case, you would have scored 1,500 points by now! But in the NHL coaches like to shuffle their lines. We remember how the guys who played with you would score 40 goals in a season. You have the impressive ability to make every teammate better.

Soon it will be 10 years since you won your first Stanley Cup ... We did come to all of your Finals. We remember how hard it was to get past Detroit. In one of the games you guys even lost to them 5-0. When you see the kind of sweat and blood that goes into winning these trophies, you begin to appreciate them even more. Capturing even one Stanley Cup is an enormous body of work.

We are so happy that you have a strong family now. Your beloved wife Anna cares about you with such warmth. And of course we couldn't be more thrilled to have our wonderful grandson Nikita! You have become more serious and focused, kinder and gentler. You have matured a lot. You adore your little boy, and Nikita wants to be by your side all the time. He looks just like you. It's uncanny, as if you were the same person. Anna says, "There is nothing of mine here." To which we say, "When Nikita laughs, he has your eyes, with a squint." For Anna's mom Nikita is the first grandson, too, as he is for us. We discuss every step and every word of our little boy. He is truly a source of joy for us. We have already bought him skates and the hockey equipment. We know that you play table hockey with him all the time, and that there are hockey sticks all around the house. And when there's hockey on TV, and Nikita is asked who scored a goal, he always shouts: "Dad!"

You are also a very kind person, son. On New Year's Eve, a terrible tragedy happened in Magnitogorsk. There was an explosion in a residential building, many people died. The building was on Karl Marx Avenue, the road we live on. Our building is just across the street. We know you'll never mention it yourself, but as soon as you learned about the tragedy, you called right away. "Mom, dad, what account can I donate money to? Find out for me right now!" and then proceeded to donate four million rubles. And then wrote on your skates before the next NHL game: "Magnitka, I'm with you!" People approached us in the streets just to thank you for not forgetting your fellow countrymen.

Our dear son! Don't stop on what you've already accomplished. Always believe in yourself! And if you fall on hard times, we will definitely help you. The most important thing is that you stay healthy and avoid unnecessary incidents on the ice. We always remember that you missed two seasons because of injuries. Otherwise you would've scored these 1,000 points long ago. We were so worried when you were having that bad streak. We went to church and prayed and lit candles for your health.

Zhenya, you are doing so, so well. We love you very, very much. We are proud of such a son. And soon we'll join you in Pittsburgh, hopefully, until June. Here's to everything being good again in the playoffs and in life.

Love,

Your mom and dad

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