Evgeni Malkin loves playing in Russia, not missing NHL

Pittsburgh Penguins star centre Evgeni Malkin tells a Russian language television news channel he doesn't miss the NHL but won't continue to play in the country until the end of his career.

Penguins' star doesn't believe NHL team owners 'would destroy NHL down to rock bottom'

Evgeni Malkin, the NHL's reigning scoring champion, has 11 goals and 33 points in 24 games for a Metallurg Magnitogorsk squad that sits fourth in the Eastern Conference of Russia's Kontinental Hockey League. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/Associated Press/File)

Call when the National Hockey League and NHL Players’ Association have settled their differences.

That appears to be Evgeni Malkin’s mindset as the Pittsburgh Penguins centre continues to thrive playing in his Russian hometown with Metallurg Magnitogorsk during the NHL lockout.

"I’m happy with everything in Magnitogorsk," the website for Russian English language television channel RT TV quoted Malkin as saying to reporters after telling them he doesn’t miss the NHL.

"We have a great team. We win a lot. I’m in good shape and get plenty of ice time."

The NHL’s reigning scoring champion, Malkin has 11 goals and 33 points in 24 games for a Metallurg Magnitogorsk squad that sits fourth in the Kontinental Hockey League’s Eastern Conference.

Back in the United States, representatives for the NHL and players’ union are meeting with federal mediators for a second consecutive day Thursday in hopes of pushing labour talks toward a new collective bargaining agreement.

The sides have managed to reach some common ground with both proposing a 50-50 split of revenues throughout the agreement, but are divided on the amount of additional payments the league will make to help ease the transition. The NHL has offered $211 million US while the NHLPA asked for $393 million.

There are also a variety of rules relating to player contracts that still need to be sorted out.

"What surprises me is that hockey isn’t the main business for club owners," said the 26-year-old Malkin, adding he won’t be playing in Russia till the end of his career as he "doesn’t believe that club owners would destroy the NHL down to rock bottom.

"They are billionaires and argue with us, those who make living only through sports. I’ve signed a good contract with Magnitigorsk … but many guys are now sitting without money."

Last week, Malkin’s Penguins teammate Sidney Crosby said bolting North America to play in Europe had become more realistic, even when he considers insurances costs that could be as much as $400,000 US.