When Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Evgeni Malkin first came to North America, veteran defenseman Sergei Gonchar acted as his support system. For a young man who didn't speak a word of English, this relationship helped ease the transition to a new chapter in his life. A friendship developed out of this experience, which has connected the two ever since.
Based upon a Russian language interview with Malkin's father Vladimir to Sovetsky Sport on Monday, an offer was on the table to reunite the two friends. However, that reunion would not be taking place in Pittsburgh but rather in Dallas where Gonchar signed a two-year extension on June 10.
According to multiple translations, Vladimir told Sovetsky Sport that the Stars offered Malkin more money than the $76-million contract he ultimately signed with the Penguins on June 13, via Natasha Andjelkovic of PensBurgh:
You know, Dallas was offering my son an even bigger contract than Pittsburgh, and Zhenya responded "No, I don't want to go there." They signed Sergei Gonchar. His best friend is playing there. Why not take it?
Andjelkovic had the translation checked by two native speakers. In addition, Dmitry Chesnokov of Yahoo!'s Puck Daddy tweeted out a similar interpretation of the report.
Russian parents and interviews. Geno's dad tells SovSport Dallas offered Malkin a bigger contract than the #Pens, but he stayed.— Dmitry Chesnokov (@dchesnokov) August 12, 2013
As is the case with any translation, the nuance of the language has the potential to be lost. Andjelkovic notes this in the comments section of the PensBurgh article:
Everyone who speaks Russian will tell you that it is a language with many ambiguities – this is part of its beauty but also a reason why translating from it is not like translating from German and it’s often impossible to translate word for word.
With that disclaimer out of the way, Vladimir's comments imply that Dallas gave Malkin (at the very least) a money figure prior to his extension with the Penguins in June. If that's the case, the Stars committed an act of tampering.
What remains to be seen is whether the NHL will look to investigate further into this matter. It's my understanding that the league tends to shy away from issues with foreign language reports like this because of the potential for misunderstanding and the lack of audio or video. Of course, my experiences with situations like this are limited.
We will try to get in touch with the parties involved to get comment on the situation. If you speak Russian and have a different interpretation of the translation, please use the comment section to share.