Sunday, January 25, 2009

An Open Letter To Evgeni Malkin

Dear Geno,

You freaking rule.

It's not that I didn't already know that. After all, you're a scoring machine, and you have the skills of a master. Over the past year, you have done so many things that have made me (and other Pens fans, no doubt) stand back and say, "WOW!" But it is what you do off the ice that prompted me to write this. I could fill up the Blogger servers with page after page of reasons why I think you're a great hockey player, but I want to address a few reasons why I think you're a great human being.

For starters, there was that contract renewal this past summer. You, like your team's captain, chose to sign a long term deal with a team whose players are a fantastic group of guys and whose loyal followers absolutely adore you rather than shop around looking for the big time money you undoubtedly could have commanded. The fact that your contract is equal to Sid's contract was a clear sign of your mutual respect for one another. That's very admirable in a world where most athletes' egos are bigger than their over-inflated paychecks.

Then watching you at the skills competition at the All Star Games yesterday opened my eyes to what kind of person you truly are. The look on your face when you realized you were the winner of the accuracy was priceless. In the interview you gave afterwards, you were so humble - genuinely humble - much more so than I would have ever expected. It was very endearing. :) As underappreciated as you are outside of the Pens' fan base, it would have been understandable if you had used the moment to sell yourself a bit, but instead you attributed your win to luck. (Just so you know - anyone who has ever seen you play in even one game knows that it was something more than luck that propelled you to that win!)

Most telling is how well you got on with Alexander Ovechkin. You, sir, are a much bigger person than I! After all that has happened between the two of you on the ice, you were able to set it all aside and not just work with the guy for the sake of appearance, but actually be friendly towards and have real fun with him. It's clear that you don't take any of that stuff personally, nor do you hold any kind of grudge (which also would be more than understandable if you did). At the risk of sounding cheesy, that is something from which I can take inspiration to try to make myself a little better person. I know the "in" thing for athletes to say is, "I'm not a role model!" but that's just not true. Being a role model goes with the territory, and you are a good one, Geno, and it seems like you're a good one without even really trying to be.

Anyways, I just wanted to mention it and say thanks for all you do. Good luck tonight, Geno. Not that you'll need it. ;)


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