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Rambler's Top100

Malkin wonders what son will think of his NHL career
28 2017 .  Pittsburgh Tribune Review


Evgeni Malkin shrugs about his place atop the NHL's list of playoff points leaders. He dismisses the 10-minute misconducts he earned in the final two minutes of Games 2 and 3 of the Eastern Conference final. And he laughs about how he pointed at and mocked Dion Phaneuf after the Ottawa defenseman knocked a puck into the Senators' goal with his skate in Game 4.

In short, he's no less fun loving, flashy or fiery than when the Penguins went to the Stanley Cup Final in 2008 and '09. But when he leaves the rink, Malkin revels in the requisite maturity that comes with his duties as a dad.

Malkin's son, Nikita, turns 1 year old Wednesday. And for a second straight year, the Penguins center must balance family time with pursuit of the Stanley Cup. Last season, he missed those precious first few days of his son's life. This year, it's a little walking and talking that Malkin must wait until an off day to savor.

I try to kiss him before I go to rink. It's amazing moment, Malkin said. (Fatherhood) changed my life for sure, but (as a) player, probably not. I try to do the same routine every day, like be better every day. But my life changed, of course. This year, I go out zero times. I stayed home. We would like have extra day in New York, and I tell coach, Let's go home.'

No matter what Malkin does in the Stanley Cup Final, he doubts Nikita will remember any of it in the years to come. He holds out hope that his achievements might resonate with an adolescent Nikita.

I know when he's growing up a little bit, 2 years old, 3 years old, he start to understand, Malkin said. I hope he's a little bit proud of me.

By the time Nikita follows hockey, Malkin might belong to the three-time Cup champion club and he might still deal with the drawback of playing in Sidney Crosby's shadow and challenging Alex Ovechkin for the generational talent from Russia label. But he's not hung up on reputation.

My record is Cups, he said. If I win one more Cup, it's like my record. I'm not thinking about points. It's only team. ... That's my focus. Not points. Not score goals.
 

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