Question: Is Evgeni Malkin trying hard to learn English and how close is he to getting the hang of it? Will it be any time soon that he will be able to do interviews, or are we looking at being a few years away from that?
Jeremy McIntire, Washington Pa.
MOLINARI: Malkin actually has made a significant effort to improve his English since returning from Russia last summer, and has done several relatively low-key interviews with print reporters this season (as well as one after a game with FSN Pittsburgh). He understands many questions enough -- and is able to convey his thoughts well enough -- that observations he makes can be used in stories, as a quote from him was in the Post-Gazette after the Penguins' 2-0 victory in Montreal last Saturday.
Malkin still remains light-years behind Alex Ovechkin of Washington in that regard, but that's probably due, at least in part, to his personality. Ovechkin is outgoing and loves to talk; Malkin is more inclined to keep to himself, especially when he's around people with whom he has a limited familiarity.
All of that said, Malkin -- and every other player who grew up speaking a language other than English -- deserves an incredible amount of credit for the effort they make to pick up English so they can fit in with their surroundings here. The fact, is, many Europeans are fluent in three or four or five languages, while there are people in this country who struggle to express themselves in one.
Given that, at least one thing seems certain: Malkin will be able to answer questions in English extremely well long before most of the people asking those questions are able to do so in Russian. Unless someone is able to do that, criticizing Malkin for his command of English does nothing so much as make a public display of that individual's ignorance.
Question: Do you think Jarkko's Ruutu's reputation as "diver" is deserved? What an embarrassment that must be for him. We've all seen how well he handled himself (in a fight with) with Darcy Tucker; why does he insist on such dramatics?
Sean, Port St. Lucie, Fla.
MOLINARI: Well, it's hard to argue with hard numbers, and Ruutu had received a league-high three diving minors before last night's games. He picked up No. 3 in Montreal.
Having a reputation for diving certainly doesn't work in his favor -- odds are that at least some referees have a guilty-until-proven-innocent attitude toward Ruutu when he is the apparent victim of an infraction by an opposing player -- but you can safely assume that Ruutu doesn't care much about how he is viewed by other players around the league.
A big part of his job description is to get opponents off their games by whatever means he can, so if that means taking an occasional diving minor when he tries to draw a penalty, Ruutu is willing to live with that. It's not like the support he'll receive in the "Mr. Congeniality" voting is going to suffer much.