After three Stanley Cup trophies, a slew of personal accomplishments and, most recently, becoming a bit of a polarizing figure in Pittsburgh, Evgeni Malkin has turned 33 years old.
That's right. Happy birthday, Mr. Malkin!
Malkin has always been the solo-creating superstar who has a tendency to retaliate and end up in the penalty box, and putting up with it has always been justified. This past season, though, questions arose about whether 'Geno' could adapt his game enough as he aged, other teams got faster, and he couldn't beat them by himself. Now he gets to answer that question.
Malkin isn't the sole reason the Penguins got knocked out of the playoffs via a first round sweep to the Islanders, but he helped make that a reality and is among those with the most to prove. He will get his chance in his 14th season, starting October 3 against the Sabres.
Prior to my covering the Penguins, Malkin was always my favorite Penguin to watch. It wasn't the "angry" mode he evolved into. It wasn't the passionate celebrations. It was quite honestly his ability to take over a game because of those attributes.
Dancing through entire teams. Shooting through bodies. Spinning to put backhanded prayers into corners. All of those things added up to Malkin being the most entertaining player in the world to me.
Then I started shooting him, and it ended up being his passion I fell in love with capturing more than anything. Now, I have three full seasons worth of images -- I looked through roughly 12,800 Penguins photos in total for the Phil Kesselpiece, and now this one, to find the ones we’ve used on every Malkin story that's published on the site.
At the top of this post is a gallery of Malkin images from my time covering him. Some are those mouth-agape action shots you come to expect from the guy, a lot are celebrations, some are with the Cup, some are with family, one proves President Donald Trump has at least a Penguins connection to Russia (come on, that's a little funny), and then some ... well, some look like a scene from an Eastern European Back to the Future reboot starring Malkin McFly who visits a Dick's Sporting Goods for some reason:
[caption id="attachment_864460" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] MATT SUNDAY / DKPS[/caption]
If you've got an explanation for what's going on with Malkin, Carl Hagelin and Bryce Harper here, please let me know ... because I can't explain it.
One of my favorite photos, both of Malkin and the Stanley Cup parade I photographed, kicks things off up there. That's Malkin walking under a bridge during the Boulevard of the Allies segment of the parade.
What's your favorite from the extra-packed group of photos? Is there a favorite I didn't think of? I'll see you guys and gals in the comments to find out. P.S. There's another birthday coming up in just about a week ...