Russian forwards Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin are two of the greatest hockey players of their generation. They have been linked together since childhood. The two played together as teenagers on Russian national teams. They were selected one and two in the 2004 NHL Draft. For nearly two decades, they’ve ferociously competed against each other in one of the biggest rivalries in hockey.
Off the ice, the two have become close friends after some initial tumult in the NHL, and during Ovechkin’s 35th birthday celebration, it was Malkin who had some of the kindest words.
Невероятно душевное поздравление от Евгения Малкина – рассказал историю из молодости и удивился, что Овечкин до сих пор сохраняет нереальную страсть к игре. Мощная дружба лучших игроков поколения🤝 pic.twitter.com/b15e7MShdZ
— Это хоккей! (@sports_hockey) September 24, 2020
Here’s the full translation of Malkin’s speech via RMNB’s Igor Kleyner.
Ovi, earlier tonight, we were shown a very touching video tribute to your whole hockey life story, starting from your early childhood, like your mom said you got a hockey stick as a present, and you fell in love with hockey.
I was just sitting and recalling one story, you probably don’t remember it, but I want to retell the story in a few words. There will be a little bit of hockey jargon [mispronounces it as “jag-ron”] eh… slang, hockey slang, so if someone doesn’t understand – as long as Ovi understands.
So we were 15… 17 or 18 years old? I think it was the juniors tournament in Yugoslavia, right? We were young, handsome. Well at least I was! We were playing on the same line, I still remember, the first faceoff in the offensive zone, as always, I lost it, and then out of the corner of my eye, to the left of me – if anybody doesn’t know, Ovi plays on the left – there is a rocket, flying into the corner of the ice. He destroys the defenseman, passes the puck to our defenseman, who shoots the puck. Ovi, meanwhile, is already in front of the goal, taking on the goaltender, and arguing with the ref, and I am just standing there, I haven’t even moved yet, just standing there shocked.
That’s when I realized that there is such a burning fire inside this man, such passion, such love of hockey. And now he turned 35, 15 or 17 years later – and nothing has changed.
That last part got me.
Malkin later posted an Instagram photo of the two hugging on each other. “HB-35,” Malkin wrote.
Screenshot courtesy of sports.ru
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