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Where there's smoke...

While the hockey world waits for Evgeni Malkin to make his next move, two other Russian players, Alexei Mikhnov and Andrei Taratukhin, are apparently heading to the NHL as well, but through more regular channels. Russian labor law allows them to give their teams 14 days notice, whereupon they can leave freely, "even if they have a signed agreement."

So why is Malkin going through this game of international Hide & Seek? He could have given Metallurg Magnitogorsk two weeks notice and still come over in plenty of time for Penguins training camp. Clearly, something else is going on here. Could there be some outside pressure by elements of the Russian mafia, as so many prominent players have faced in the past?

Sure, young adults make plenty of stupid decisions, so it's possible that Malkin has received some bad advice and panicked in the wake of signing a one-year deal to return to his Russian squad. But I would guess that there's much more to the story than just fear of a battle between the Russian Hockey Federation and the NHL over transfer fees. The question is, once this is over and he shows up in Pittsburgh, will we ever hear the full tale? 

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