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My Hockey Obsession: Evgeni Malkin’s Oral Fixation

Updated on May 31, 2014
Must...bite...shirt... | Source

An Introduction to Obsession

My husband is originally from Pittsburgh, and since I was pretty much a nomad during my formative years I have gravitated toward his native-city sports teams. Never a huge sports fan, I did enjoy hockey casually. When we began dating, my future husband gently guided me into the realm of sports fandom, then later marveled sometimes at the monster he created who frequently yelled at the television and accused referees of sudden fits of hysterical blindness. As some adopt a spouse’s religion upon marriage, I embraced the Pittsburgh Penguins.

At The 2014 Sochi Olympics, An Unusual Spectator Sport

My favorite part of the 2014 Sochi Olympics - aside from marveling that Bob Costas actually washed his eyes with Russian tap water and wondered why they began melting out of his head - was all the hockey. My only struggle has been for whom to root. Naturally, as a born and bred American I want the US to kick butt across all events. But in hockey, ones loyalties become divided when the Olympics roll around. Suddenly, your favorite team is carved up and displaced, paired with former rivals on their respective national teams, pitted against their NHL comrades.


Shattering the Glass

However, this Hub was not intended to be a lamentation about grappling with splintered loyalties at the Olympics. It is a preface to the revelation about one of my favorite Penguins players, which I discovered while watching the Olympic games. Evgeni Malkin has an oral fixation.

Perusing the internet in my odd obsession to find out what is up with Malkin and his bevy of blonde Russo-American lady friends, I stumbled upon a blog that will forever change my life. (I forgot to bookmark it, but when I find it again I will post the link here). I had never noticed this idiosyncrasy before, but I now realize it is ubiquitous. It’s like the Spoiler Alert episode of How I Met Your Mother. Once you see it, you can’t get it out of your mind.


There it was, laid out in this blog, supported by recurring picture evidence, replicated and perfected as the habit continued throughout Malkin's hockey career. I had never really noticed it before, but now I will forever watch, haunted, hoping to see him repeat this behavior. And when Team Russia once again took to the ice at the Bolshoy Ice Dome I sat rapt, scanning the Russian team, trying to spy Geno, reminding myself that his Olympic number is 11 not 71. Straining, obsessed, I stared, waiting for him to do it again. And he did. Repeatedly.

Immediately, the first time he appeared on camera for that game he grabbed and gnawed his shirt collar. But, taking it one step further, with such grace and remarkable dexterity, he performed the most fluid movement, catching the collar with his teeth, flipping the fabric closer to his lips with the minutest of head gestures, then capturing and nibbling on the jersey voraciously. It was both disturbing and exciting in its Freudian simplicity and suggestiveness. It was agile and flawless in its nimble athleticism.

Sigmund Freud stares judgmentally. He knows what you have been up to. He also knows what it really means.
Sigmund Freud stares judgmentally. He knows what you have been up to. He also knows what it really means. | Source

Occupational Hazard

Hockey players appear to develop a sort of low-grade oral enthrallment, dexterously slipping their mouth guards away from their teeth with their tongues, gnawing the plastic absently while recovering their breath on the sidelines. The pictures of Malkin, however, reveal a level of fixation bordering on compulsion, depicting him nibbling not just on his mouth guard but also his jersey, as well as his glove and possibly even the end of his stick - and not only on the sidelines of the game. Geno has been captured nomming his cotton t-shirts absently while cruising the town.

So whether or not you are a fan of Evgeni Malkin, next time you are watching Team Russia or the Penguins keep an eye out for Geno on the sidelines and just watch. Odds are, eventually, he will put something — his jersey, his stick … who knows, maybe even Crosby’s glove — in his mouth.

Dude, back off. Do not nibble my glove.
Dude, back off. Do not nibble my glove. | Source
Save one of those gloves for Geno to gnaw on
Save one of those gloves for Geno to gnaw on | Source
That glove looks tasty, no?
That glove looks tasty, no? | Source

Snippet of Nibbling -- You Should Mute This First, Though

A Note About the Dearth of Shirt-Biting Pictures and Photo-Sharing Licensing

I would love to post the many dozens of photos that have flooded the internet that support definitively the theory of Malkin's oral fixation, but I cannot yet verify the license status of most of them. When and if I determine that some I have found are freely available to use, I will update this Hub. In the meantime, here are a few that are free to share that I think are entertaining..

Is he gonna do it...?
Is he gonna do it...? | Source
Looks like Savard might want to find out just how tasty this fabled jersey is.
Looks like Savard might want to find out just how tasty this fabled jersey is. | Source
It's contagious. Mike Rupp's tryin' it out a bit, too.
It's contagious. Mike Rupp's tryin' it out a bit, too. | Source

How do you reconcile your team allegiances against your loyalty to your country during the Olympics?

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