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Evgeni Malkin's father claims Dallas Stars offered son big contract

By Chris Peters | Hockey Writer

Did the Dallas Stars tamper with Evgeni Malkin? (USATSI)
Did the Dallas Stars tamper with Evgeni Malkin? (USATSI)

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Comments made by Evgeni Malkin's father to Russian media outlet SovSport have entangled the Pittsburgh Penguins star in a bit of late-summer controversy.

According to Geno's dad Vladimir, the Dallas Stars offered his son a larger contract than the Pittsburgh Penguins did. Dmitry Chesnokov translated the interview for Yahoo! Sports' Puck Daddy:

"You know, Dallas offered my son a bigger contract than Pittsburgh. And Zhenya [Malkin] replied 'No, I don't want [to go] there.' And that's when the Stars had already signed Sergei Gonchar. His [Malkin's] best friend [Gonchar] was there. Why not agree to go there?

"But son said 'If things in Pittsburgh were ever to go downhill and I would have to leave, I would pick the New York Rangers or the Montreal Canadiens. There are a few clubs, but I am in no rush to be in Dallas. But actually I don't want to change houses, go somewhere. I am used to Pittsburgh -- to the city and the team.'"

Aside from the overshare on where his son would go if things went bad in Pittsburgh, Mr. Malkin -- probably unwittingly -- basically accused the Stars of tampering. Malkin has never been a free agent in his career. In June, Pittsburgh signed him to an eight-year extension with his current contract not set to expire until 2014.

If the Stars did indeed offer Malkin a contract, which seems strange given the fact that he would have still had a year left on his deal with Pittsburgh at the time of any alleged negotiation, they would be subject to likely severe punishment under the NHL's strict tampering rules.

So this is a pretty serious revelation, if there's any veracity to it. Considering the source, it should be taken with a big grain of salt. Perhaps it was a misunderstanding between father and son or maybe Malkin's father is just spouting off. Unless he was involved in the alleged negotiations at some point, Vladimir Malkin couldn't possibly be certain a contract offer was ever made.

Tampering is a serious offense in professional sports in general. The NHL fined the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2009 after Ron Wilson made public comments about the team's potential interest in Canucks stars Daniel and Henrik Sedin, and that was pretty mild. The fine would certainly have been more severe had the Leafs engaged in any kind of improper negotiations with players from an opposing team.

Despite the fact that Malkin's father is a somewhat flimsy source, the league should still be doing its due diligence and talk things over with Malkin and both teams.

None of the entities in question has made public comment, but Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News has a theory.

What might have happened is that good friend Sergei Gonchar signed a two-year deal with the Stars on June 10 and asked Malkin about the possibility of coming to Dallas if he became a UFA in 2014. Malkin might have discussed that with his father, but all of this is speculation at this time. Officially, Gonchar is not a representative of the Stars.

This theory falls along the lines of this being just one big misunderstanding, which seems most likely. The league can't treat this situation dismissively, however, due to the seriousness of the unintentional allegations. That makes it worth keeping close track of in the coming days.

UPDATE: Stars GM Jim Nill says claims that the club engaged in tampering with Evgeni Malkin are "completely untrue."

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