Quantcast

Evgeni Malkin Would Like a Word With You

An exclusive interview with the Penguins’ enigmatic superstar.



(page 3 of 4)

Evgeni signs an autograph for photographer Frank Walsh's sons. "My first globe," he jokes.

 

Russian Humor


Here’s Geno now in the plush players’ lounge of the CONSOL Energy Center. He’s got a Stanley Cup and a playoff MVP trophy—and the scars to prove it, including an enormous one on his right knee from ACL surgery last season. It’s a long way from the static of Pittsburgh International Airport. The winding green aisles have become familiar, the highways well traveled (“I have navigation, never lost,” Malkin says. “Only one time when visiting the kids in hospital I lost my way.”) Mario’s house is now “Mario’s house,” and Geno’s got a house of his own with a yard and a cat named Dixi. The Mellon Arena’s sparse corridors have been replaced by CONSOL’s carpeted rec rooms, bubble hockey tables and espresso machines.

Much has changed in a few years. The static cloud that once hung above Geno’s head has lifted. He’s talking in English, laughing as he recounts a now infamous story featured in HBO’s “24/7” documentary. Somehow, it’s funnier when Geno tells it—pausing every once in a while to Google-search a word in his mind and emphasizing minor points with giggles like a middle-schooler rhapsodizing a lunch table full of preteens with a tall tale.

“One time I see Flower and Johnny, two goalies, do re-around ... re-arrange of Lovejoy and Letetsu’s room. TV, beds, everything. Out! Put new room around elevator. Hotel people very confused. Very funny joke.”

Indeed.

This is the Geno who’s sometimes hard to see. On camera, he’s shy and intensely earnest. In person, he’s the best kind of adult: a big kid.

“One thing people might not see is how funny he is behind the scenes,” Gonchar says. “He doesn’t say much, but all of a sudden he’ll come from out of nowhere with a joke that cracks everyone up. One thing I’ll always remember about Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals was Geno making fun of Max Talbot for missing the empty net after Max just won us the Cup with two goals.”

On Twitter, which Malkin joined at the start of the season, he responded to an earth-shattering nutritional discovery by asking for verification from his 79,000 followers: “Just read that tomato = fruit? True???”

And when a conversation with Phoenix Coyotes tough-guy Paul Bisonnette, nicknamed Biz Nasty, ended with Bisonnette jokingly telling Malkin he would see him at the All-Star Game, Malkin retorted, in flawless broken English, “Sorry Nasty, you play in rookie game,”  then added the follow-up disclaimer: “Russian humor.”

And don’t get Malkin started on the Steelers. He’s a convert, a full-fledged Cope-a-Nut. “I don’t understand all the rules, but I love this game,” he says. “My favorites now are Mike Wallace and Troy Polamalu. I think he’s the best defenseman.”

After Polamalu returned a fumble for a game-breaking touchdown against the Colts early this season, Malkin feverishly sent a tweet to the Flyin’ Hawaiian: “You best!!!!”

Malkin’s comedic stylings may invoke Balky from “Perfect Strangers” or perhaps Steve Martin’s “Saturday Night Live” wild-and-crazy-guys schtick, and maybe the caricature isn’t lost on Geno himself. After all, his Halloween costume this year involved a spread-collar silk shirt, a plume of fake chest hair and an absurdly bushy Doobie Brothers mustache.

Malkin’s hilarious, hirsute costume is a kind of living metaphor for the view many hockey fans have of the mercurial star, and that caricature misses the point entirely. Because underneath the goofy exterior is a man whose bravery is unmatched and whose loyalty to Lemieux and the Penguins organization is limitless. If Malkin has a fault, it’s that he cares too much

Next: Smiling like a butcher's dog

Hot Reads

7 Things You Need to Know About the Pittsburgh Marathon

7 Things You Need to Know About the Pittsburgh Marathon

Before you head for the course, brush up on etiquette for the race.
Best Doctors 2014

Best Doctors 2014

We present to your our list of the 608 leading regional physicians across 77 specialties.
Review: Crested Duck Restaurant

Review: Crested Duck Restaurant

Crested Duck is a prime place to enjoy cured meats, pickled plates and European-inspired bistro dishes, such as chicken roulade.
Crazy in Love, Even at 40

Crazy in Love, Even at 40

As PittGirl approaches her 40th birthday, she rekindles her love for Pittsburgh.

The 412

Pittsburgh Becomes the First City to Win a Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Award

Pittsburgh Becomes the First City to Win a Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Award

We now have something in common with the cronut.
'No Summer in Pittsburgh is Complete Without ...'

'No Summer in Pittsburgh is Complete Without ...'

We asked a half-dozen notable locals to finish that very sentence.
Nostalgia Overload: Throwback Commercials From Pittsburgh’s Past

Nostalgia Overload: Throwback Commercials From Pittsburgh’s Past

Come for the nostalgia, stay for KDKA’s John Cigna being kidnapped via helicopter.
Iron Worker Relaxes on I-Beam at the Top of PNC Plaza, Takes Bonkers Photo

Iron Worker Relaxes on I-Beam at the Top of PNC Plaza, Takes Bonkers Photo

This man is not to be trifled with, you guys.

Hot Reads

7 Things You Need to Know About the Pittsburgh Marathon

7 Things You Need to Know About the Pittsburgh Marathon

Before you head for the course, brush up on etiquette for the race.
Best Doctors 2014

Best Doctors 2014

We present to your our list of the 608 leading regional physicians across 77 specialties.
Review: Crested Duck Restaurant

Review: Crested Duck Restaurant

Crested Duck is a prime place to enjoy cured meats, pickled plates and European-inspired bistro dishes, such as chicken roulade.
Crazy in Love, Even at 40

Crazy in Love, Even at 40

As PittGirl approaches her 40th birthday, she rekindles her love for Pittsburgh.
Warhol Redux

Warhol Redux

The Andy Warhol Museum has turned things upside down.
Top 10

Top 10

The best things to do in Pittsburgh in April.