Penguins coach Johnston set to travel to Moscow to meet with Malkin

Ian McLaren
Yuri Kadobnov / REUTERS

Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Johnston is set to travel to Moscow to get acquainted with superstar center Evgeni Malkin.

Johnston explained the rationale behind the journey to Josh Yohe of the Tribune-Review:

I want to talk with Geno (Evgeni Malkin). I want to get to know him. I think it's a good thing for a player who he gets to meet his new coach on his home turf. I think it will be comfortable for Geno. It's a chance for me to meet him, and for us to talk, and I think it's important. When training camp comes, you don't really get too much time to talk.

Some may argue it's not the best time to travel to Russia, especially in light of recent tension with Ukraine and the MH17 tragedy involving Fligh MH17. 

For his part, Johnston doesn't appear too concerned: "I've been to Russia a lot, probably eight times. I was with the national team in Canada, so I'm comfortable in Moscow. I'm looking for it."

Malkin leads all active Russian players with a 1.22 career point per game average, so getting on the same page right out of the gate may indeed be worth traveling halfway across the world.