I wasn’t going to write about this because it wasn’t worth even bring more attention to Chris Bradford, a sports writer in Beaver County, but after hearing him on The PensNation Radio Show tonight, I have to speak up. You can read the article here, but honestly, it isn’t even worth the effort to read.
The gist of the article is that Evgeni Malkin doesn’t understand his role and responsibility as the team’s alternate captain with the Penguins because he elected not to engage in the media scrum after his first day at training camp yesterday. He missed the first day, but all things being fair, Malkin has been playing in the KHL and he is game ready. He is in shape, he’s been playing and left the KHL second in scoring this season.
Bradford had this to say:
It seemed a reasonable request being that Malkin — who didn’t attend the first day of camp after travel delays from Russia — hadn’t spoken to the local media in eight months.
It seemed especially reasonable considering the NHL’s latest labor debacle. You’d think that everyone associated with the league from the commissioner’s office on down might want to put their best skate forward. If they hadn’t noticed, they haven’t received a lot of good publicity these last 120 days or so.
Alas, as the Penguins streamed off the ice after an especially long practice, Malkin was nowhere to be seen. A benevolent member of the team’s media relations department informed the throng that Malkin wouldn’t be speaking until Tuesday.
Clearly, this was a case study in an athlete “not getting it.”
This was a hit piece done for one reason and one reason only: to stir up some controversy. I don’t know if Bradford has been attending coffee talk with Rob Rossi and Dejan Kovacevic or if he just enjoys being ignorant to facts, but either way he was hard up for internet hits and this got it. There is no other logical explanation for this piece.
On The PensNation this evening, Bradford claimed that Malkin is expected to address the media.
No player, no matter the letter sewn to their sweater is obligated to speak to the media at any given time. Bradford claims that his not speaking yesterday could cause unrest around the league.
I follow people from almost every single fan base on Twitter. Beat writers, fans, and bloggers from all around the NHL. I have YET to see anyone complain because Geno didn’t speak. I did however, see some Bruins bloggers (The guys at Days of Y’orr. Check them out. They’re fantastic.) begging Pens fans to send them Malkin. They clearly were not butt hurt over Geno abstaining from addressing the media on that particular day.
Sidney Crosby for much of his recovery from concussion (and I am talking about last season after he went out in November), chose not to speak to the media when there was nothing for him to update. He also didn’t speak to the media very much during the playoffs.
Bradford also states that Malkin was out of touch for the last few months with Pittsburgh media. This is simply untrue. Just a few weeks ago, papers and websites ran articles with quotes from Geno saying that he wanted Crosby to come over and play in the KHL if the lockout continued. That is only one example. There are others. This is not the mark of a man on a media blackout.
After experiencing flight delays and traveling across the globe to have to play hockey without proper time for his body to adjust to the time difference, don’t you think it would be reasonable to expect that Geno may not wish to speak to the media that day? I can tell you from first hand experience, that the fans were not upset. As soon as he skated out onto the ice on Monday, many of us gave him a standing ovation. You could hear small groups chanting “MVP! MVP!” throughout Consol Energy Center.
Evgeni Malkin DOES get it. While he is still not completely proficient at speaking English, last season in Crosby’s absence, he did step up and speak more with the media. As he gets more comfortable, he is becoming more engaged.
Let me tell you a story about Evgeni Malkin. Every time I’ve ever taken my son to Pens practice, the guys typically do not engage the fans. On occasion they do, but they are usually down to business on he ice and may sign autographs in the parking lot after. Last season at training camp, my son and some friends and I were sitting against the glass. We suddenly heard someone pounding on the glass. We looked up, and there was Geno, big goofy smile on his face trying to get my son’s attention. He turned around and Geno gave him a two handed silly wave and grinned at him.
Because Evgeni Malkin gets it. He displays LEADERSHIP when after games he is the first star for the 5th game in a row and is talking to Dan Potash and gives ALL of the credit for the win to his teammates. He displays heart and compassion and respect for the game when he texts Ray Shero that he is “sorry” that he tore 2 major ligaments in his knee and would be done for the season. He shows dedication when he spends an entire summer working out of his mind with Mike Kadar to come back to his team better than he ever was before. He shows maturity when he starts answering players who mess with him with goals and hat tricks instead of aggression and penalty minutes like he used to. He shows how humble he is when he constantly apologizes to the media for his broken English. He shows how caring and honest he is when he thanks his best friend, Sergei Gonchar for his awards that he earned, being the league’s MVP and scoring champion.
That is the type of leader and person that Evgeni Malkin is and you, Chris Bradford are certainly the one who just doesn’t get it.
Giving kudos where they are deserved, nice article by Rob Rossi about Geno in the Trib today.