(Photo: David Hague)

The Pittsburgh Penguins report to training camp on Friday, which means the start of multiple feel good puff stories.

There will be a ton of hot takes ‘so and so is in the best shape of his life’

‘Alex Galchenyuk is going to score 50 goals playing with Evgeni Malkin’

We’ll probably even see an article emerge by Sunday night from someone that ‘Jack Johnson is having a great camp and is going to be a ‘Norris Trophy Candidate’

On a serious note, Evgeni Malkin is the hottest topic as the Penguins are just days away from hitting the ice. There’s been a strong consensus from scouts I’ve talked with this summer when breaking down the Penguins roster that it’s a roster evaluators look at as a one-round type of team where Malkin will be the biggest X-factor on whether Pittsburgh re-emerges as a legitimate Stanley Cup contender or not in 19-20.

The burning question is whether Malkin’s 2018-2019 season is a sign of things to come in 2019-2020? At age 33, we may truly be entering the downside of Evgeni Malkin’s career which is what happens for a lot of players who are much closer to age 35 than 27.

That’s life of being a professional athlete.

Rob Rossi’s article in The Athletic this week took a deep dive at a lot of the off-ice issues that surrounded Malkin last season.

As reported here before, a major frustration from Jim Rutherford & Co was Malkin’s lack of attention to details off the ice last season. It had been brewing from the previous season but once the on-ice production dropped, it took it to a new level. Malkin was constantly distant in meetings and going through the motions during film sessions, with team sources calling Malkin a constant problem where he would just roll his eyes at the coaches and Pittsburgh has been concerned about his off-ice training when it comes to the little things you need to do at his age on a daily basis during the season.

Rossi’s article touched on some of this and Malkin is saying all the right things where he see’s the need to change in those areas. Malkin is never going to be Sidney Crosby with the attention to details on maintaining his body, but this is a critical area the Penguins are crossing their fingers that just won’t be talk from Malkin when you hit December and January in the dog days of the NHL season.

What really stood out from the feature was this:

“He [Evgeni Malkin] had gone long stretches without seeing his family. Nikita accompanied Malkin’s wife, Anna, to Moscow, where she spent the Christmas and New Year holidays working for Russian television. When they weren’t in Moscow, Anna and Nikita spent many winter days at the Malkins’ property on Fisher Island, just outside Miami. Daily video messages and phone calls only made him miss them more.”

Professional athletes are human. Not being with your loved one’s, especially when you have a small child at home can weigh on anyone.


— How legit were the Evgeni Malkin trade rumors this summer? Based on multiple conversations Evgeni Malkin’s representation had with other clubs in surveying the scene, they took the Penguins willingness to trade Malkin as 100% legit until about two days before the draft where word got to the Malkin camp that trade talks between the Penguins and To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”! One high ranking source close to the situation remains adamant that had the To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”! Pittsburgh JTo read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!