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All-Star Media Day 1: Odds and Ends

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
MONTREAL -- Apparently, the alleged animosity between Russian superstars Evgeni Malkin and Alex Ovechkin is over…that is, if it ever truly existed.


“We’re friends,” Malkin said. “We spoke earlier before the media. It’s not bad. It’s not a problem.”

Alex Ovechkin grinned when asked about the supposed feud. 

“It’s always the same questions,” Ovechkin said. “We shook hands. We’re good. (The dispute is) made up by the media.”

In a quest for a détente, the two All-Stars posed for a photo during the NHL’s media availability Friday afternoon and even discussed plans for later that evening.

“He asked, ‘What you doing tonight?” Malkin explained to a few curious media members. “I said, ‘Nothing.’ He said, ‘Maybe we can go out tonight.’ I said, ‘Maybe, why not?’ We spoke, all the Russian guys, (Ilya) Kovalchuk and (Alex) Kovalev. We talked before about maybe going out.”

When Ovechkin was asked about going out with his fellow countrymen, the Capitals winger quipped:

“I don’t know about Malkin.”

“No, we’re good,” he then clarified

Hopefully, the players leave their agents at home this time.

“Agent in Moscow,” Malkin grinned.


(Photo taken by Pavel Lysenkov, Sovetsky Sport)


EASTERN BLOC

With Penguins center Sidney Crosby missing the All-Star Game due to a knee injury, there was much speculation amongst the media as to who would replace him in the starting lineup.

The unanimous pick seemed to be Ovechkin. If that does occur, then the Eastern Conference All-Stars will start an all Russian line with Ovechkin, Malkin and Kovalev.

“We all speak Russian, it’s no problem,” Malkin said. “Ovechkin is a good player. Maybe he’ll pass to me and I’ll score, I’ll pass and he’ll score. I played with him at World Juniors and national team. It’s no problem.”

“It’s just a game,” Ovechkin said. “It’s going to be a good time for both of us.”



BACK TO THE FUTURE

It’s been nearly six years since Kovalev donned a Penguins jersey. However, he took a few minutes to reflect on his five seasons in Pittsburgh.

“It was a great experience but I don’t think they have any players left since that time when I was playing there,” Kovalev said. “It was a great time. We had some great players. The players that I played with, Robert Lang, Marty Straka, we had such a great time. That threesome, every year we always dominated in the league, that line. Even the atmosphere in the locker room overall, it was such a great atmosphere. I would love to go back to that team.”

The Penguins traded Petr Nedved to the New York Rangers for Kovalev in 1998. The Russian native credited his arrival in Pittsburgh as a turning point in his career.

“I remembered the first time I went to Pittsburgh," Kovalev said. "I remember the coach telling me, ‘Don’t worry about anything, just play your game. And my life opened up again. I was able to show what I’m capable of. That was probably one of my greatest experiences in Pittsburgh.”



SHAMELESS PLUG


Speaking of Kovalev, the former Penguin was asked to compare himself from his Pittsburgh years to current Penguins All-Star Malkin.

“I played with him a little bit with the national team,” Kovalev said. “Size-wise he’s a little bit taller than me. It’s pretty much the same game.”

Kovalev, who put together a two-disc instructional DVD titled: Alex Kovalev: My Hockey Tips and Training Methods, then with a smirk added:

“He’s maybe less skilled. He can always watch my DVD.”



MALKIN TIDBITS

Here are a few short items of interest that pittsburghpenguins.com learned about Malkin during the course of his half hour of media availability:

> His favorite city is Miami and then Los Angeles.
“I think it’s LA and Florida. It’s not as cold. I like the warm weather. I think it’s Miami, Florida.”

(Photo Courtesy of Getty Images)
> His favorite arena to play in is the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston.
“I like Boston. It’s a small arena and good fans.”

> Malkin will compete in the accuracy contest as part of the SuperSkills competition and he has no faith in his accuracy.
“No, I’m not good. No, no, (my accuracy) is not good.”

> Malkin will face Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas in the breakaway competition.
“I’ll try to score. I don’t know what I’ll do. I just try to score. Tim Thomas is a good goalie. I’m a little bit nervous. I don’t think about what I’ll do. I just try to score. We’ll see what I do (Saturday).”

> Ovechkin was asked his opinion of the best three players in the NHL. His top three are: Roberto Luongo, Malkin and Zdeno Chara.
“I came in second?" Malkin said in fake surprise. "That’s it? I guess that’s cool.”

Malkin was asked to list his top three players in the NHL. His picks: Crosby, Ovechkin and Kovalev.

So Malkin was surprised to come in second yet he didn't even list himself in the top three.

"No, I"m not the best," Malkin reasoned. "I don't think I'm best player."

Of course there are those who would disagree with Malkin. I guess it all depends on who you ask.



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