sports terrorism or athlete liberation

Unless you are a passionate hockey fan you've probably never heard of Evgeni Malkin. But there is a very interesting story developing in regard to the 20 tear old Russian phenom.

Malkin is the most sought after hockey player in the last few years and has been compared to a young Mario Lemieux. His NHL rights are in the possession of the Pittsburg Penguins, who, incidentily, are owned by Lemieux. He has always stated his intent was to come to America and play in the NHL but he recently was forced to sign a 1 year contract with a Russian Superleague team. However, four days ago Malkin disappeared from training camp in Finland.

The departure of Malkin has Russian hockey officials in an uproar. Here are a few quotes:

"They all like to talk about democracy, the American way and then they shamelessly steal our best players. This is pure sports terrorism." said Gennady Velichkin, who is the general director of the Russian hockey club Metallurg Magnitogorsk.

"Don't forget, Malkin is a young kid, he is still very naive and it was easy for them to get into his head all that stuff about the American dream and how great the NHL is," he added.

"We've put so much effort, resources and money into Malkin's development as a player. He was our gold diamond, our prize possession. He had a contract with us, we were building the whole team around him and now he is gone," Velichkin said.

While I think that athletes should be able to play anywhere they want to, I understand the frustration of the Russian director. Its not right to just go and steal a player. Most American people will never think of the situation again once Malkin is entertaining them in American hockey rinks, but it would be to our detriment if we think that this kind of American capitalistic behavior won't fuel anti-American sentiment in Russia and other Eastern block countries.