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Old 08-16-2006, 03:13 PM   #28
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Default Re: Penguins pick Malkin skates out on his Russian club

Malkin files resignation with Russian club

Evgeni Malkin has officially sent his resignation to Metallurg Magnitogorsk, TSN has confirmed.

Malkin has been at the center of a huge international storm since leaving his Russian team on the weekend.

Mettallurg Magnitogorsk coach Dave King told the FAN 590 in Toronto on Wednesday morning that a fax was received by the team that indicated Malkin was exercising his "two-week window rights" to re-sign. Russian law allows any employee to leave an employer, even while under contract, simply by giving two weeks notice.

King said he did not know where Malkin was, but speculated that he was staying with Washington Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin somewhere in the United States. Ovechkin, however, is in Toronto and told TSN he had not spoken to Malkin in a couple of weeks.

"Everyone wants to be in the best place, in the best league," Ovechkin told TSN. "It's his decision. I don't know if he's right or wrong, but it's his decision."

Malkin's agents have only said that their client is safe.

Sources told TSN that Malkin is not in Toronto, but is stationed at an undisclosed location in the United States.

TSN has confirmed that Malkin, through his representation, has indeed served notice that he will not be returning, and provided Metallurg Magnitogorsk the obligatory two week notification required in writing under Russian labour law. This process took place quickly following his departure from the team on Saturday.

Malkin is said to be rattled by this cloak and dagger saga and wants for nothing other than the opportunity to play in the National Hockey League and to put the nastiness of this battle behind him and his family.

"It's not his fault, he didn't ask for this", a source close to the situation told TSN. "He was ready to play (in the NHL) last year. This is what he wants."

The next chapter in this mystery is equally guarded, however the source adds that the next 24 hours may offer more insight into Malkin's next move.

What is clear is the enormous pressure the Russian Federation is feeling now that the leverage they had with Malkin in an ongoing tug-of-war with the IIHF and the NHL is quickly vanishing.

It is hoped Malkin's fight to join the NHL will encourage Russia to fall into line with the other international hockey federations currently guided by the existing transfer agreement, thus avoiding the inevitability of other young, talented Russian players from following a similar path.

The resignation strategy Malkin has employed is one that no Russian hockey player had used until Alexei Mikhnov, an Edmonton Oilers prospect, gave his written notice to Russian club Yaroslavl on June 30. That situation, however, also remains unresolved. Yaroslavl could still attempt to prevent Mikhnov from leaving Russia, or it could take legal action against the Oilers to block him from making the move.

"All we know is Mikhnov gave his notice to leave his club team and the two-week period expired," Oilers assistant GM Scott Howson told the Edmonton Journal last week. Howson also told the Journal that Mikhnov's agent was, in fact, negotiating a contract with the Oilers.

Malkin seems a long way from getting to that step.

Penguins star Sergei Gonchar told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he spoke to Malkin a week ago, just before Malkin disappeared while Metallurg Magnitogorsk was training in Finland. Gonchar noted that Malkin sounded disappointed about having signed to stay with Metallurg Magnitogorsk.

"He was very upset," Gonchar told the Tribune-Review, noting that there must have been a lot of pressure on the youngster to re-sign with his Russian team - maybe too much pressure.

"It's a different country than it used to be," Gonchar told the Times-Review. "Hopefully, nobody is going to put pressure on his family or himself when he comes back. But at the same time, there's got to be some pressure because otherwise a guy wouldn't sign a deal at 3 a.m. then disappear in a couple days.

"I'm assuming he's in the United States or some other country where he can wait."

Russian national team coach Vyacheslav Bykov has already told the Russian newspaper Sport-Express that Malkin would still be welcome to play for his country.
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