Evgeni Malkin is back in Pittsburgh. He and Team Russia practiced Sunday night at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex ahead of their World Cup of Hockey pre-tournament game on Wednesday evening against Sidney Crosby and Team Canada. After the skate, we caught up with the Pens center.
How was your summer?
It was a short one, but it was fun. Spent time with my family and my kid’s growing up right now, it’s fun.
Can you take us through your day with the Cup?
I had a whole day in Moscow. We had pictures with my family and friends. I showed the Cup to fans. Lots of fans came. We had fun, but I was a little bit tired.
Did you put your son Nikita in the Cup?
Yeah, of course. It’s not a public picture. We did just inside the family, but maybe later I’ll show it.
What has fatherhood been like?
Every day is new. You see new moves, what he does. Every day it’s an amazing time and he smiles when you look at him, it’s great. I missed the last couple weeks because we had practice in St. Petersburg. It’s a different city, they stay in Moscow. But he and my wife will come after tomorrow. It’s a long time I haven’t seen him. It’s like three weeks. But it’s a good life because we have iPhones, pictures, videos, it’s easy, Skype too. It’s a little bit easier (to communicate) right now, but I still miss him.
How’s the elbow feel?
Everything is good. It’s pretty strong right now. I worked hard all summer. Nothing is wrong, no pain. I played two exhibition games already and it was good.
Did you have to adjust your training with it being such a short summer or was it the same?
Pretty much the same. I started workouts with (Sergei) Gonchar in Miami and after I worked a little bit on the ice in Moscow. After that we started training camp with the national team. It’s a pretty short summer, but it’s pretty hard work.
How cool is it to have a World Cup game here in Pittsburgh?
I think it will be fun. We play against Sid, against Canada, it’s (going to be) an amazing time here. I’m excited. It’s the first time I’ve played on a different bench, on the guest bench. It’s weird. I don't know how the fans feel, but I hope they support us.
Are you looking forward to showing your Russian teammates around the city?
We’re a little bit tired because it’s a different time (zone). We just landed tonight and it’s maybe a tough night because it’s nine hours’ difference. I hope everyone sleeps good tonight and tomorrow we have a day off. Maybe we’ll walk a little bit and have a team dinner.
Do you and Sid talk when you’re on the ice?
Not much. Sid talks too much every game (laughs). He talks too quick for me. Actually, when he’s mad, I don’t understand. But he’s funny.
After the World Cup you’ll come back for Penguins training camp. It will be virtually the same team you guys won the Stanley Cup with. How excited does that make you about this upcoming season?
I like it. It’s the same group, same guys. I’m excited because after a great year, to come back and see smiling faces around, it’s an amazing time. It’s a great life. I enjoy every day here. Great coaching staff, great organization, everyone is so friendly here. My friends, my family, it’s amazing.
Is it weird being in your home locker room and everything is Team Russia?
Yeah (laughs). It’s a little bit weird, but I like it. It’s the World Cup, it’s a new challenge for us. We lost two Olympics before, it’s a new challenge for our national team and we have a great team right now. Everyone is looking forward, everyone is looking to the first game against Sweden and it’s an amazing time to be here, to be in my second hometown with my national team.
How do you get along with the three Capitals?
We’re friends. They sit here (gestures next to him). They’re good guys. It’s very funny. Lots of joking around. It’s a great time. I like my life, my hockey. But enjoy the moment.