Hockey easier than English for Malkin

Says Pittsburgh's a good city, prefers Russian music

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"Easy questions."

It was both a request and the first answer by Evgeni Malkin in his first group interview in English.

The Penguins' second-year forward, who has hung tightly to his native Russian, yesterday met with a group of reporters in a team office after practice at Mellon Arena.

Although team employee and interpreter George Birman sat next to Malkin and helped with a word here or there, Malkin shyly answered several questions in his new language.

With a weeklong road trip coming up, he was asked about what he eats when the team travels.

"My favorite food is spaghetti, chicken, beef. I like sushi," Malkin said.

And his road roommate, forward Maxime Talbot?

"Yeah. Max funny guy," he said. "We see movie."

Malkin halted when asked about his favorite movies, until he was asked about "Transformers," and his face lit up.

"I see two ... " he said, looking at Birman for assistance before finishing, "Two times."

Asked how he is learning English, Malkin said, "I see movies. Gonch helps me translate." "Gonch" is defenseman, fellow Russian and landlord Sergei Gonchar, who encourages Malkin to speak English.

"Yeah. He talk me every day, 'You speak English.' "

Compared with last season, Malkin has a lot less problem with the language barrier.

"The coach, the guys talk, more understand," he said.

He indicated he has ventured out by himself, for instance, to restaurants.

"I read menu, talk to waitress," Malkin said.

Asked if he has come to like certain American music, he said, "No, I like Russian music."

What about America?

"I like New York," he said. "It's shopping. It's big city, beautiful city."

And Pittsburgh?

"It is a good city," he said. "Good fans. They like hockey. They like football."

He has become a Steelers fan.

"Yeah, three-zero last game. I see it," Malkin said.

Then it was over, a little less than six minutes after it started, and Malkin looked relieved.

Shelly Anderson can be reached at or 412-263-1721.


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