Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 09/14/06 at 09:40 AM ET
The engine that drives this gritty, weather-beaten city of belching smokestacks and trolley lines is steel, but its heart and soul is hockey. The pro team here, Metallurg, polishes its prodigies from the age of 6. And it almost always fills its aging 3,500-seat stadium with screaming fans adorned in Metallurg red, white and blue. So when Magnitogorsk's favorite son, Metallurg forward Evgeni Malkin, suddenly disappeared from the team Aug. 12 in Helsinki, Finland, Russians here gasped and waited. Four days later, when the 20-year-old superstar turned up in the U.S. to embark on a career in the National Hockey League, they seethed.continued
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