We all remember how not-delightful the NHL lockout was. It could’ve been particularly destructive for the league had some of their top Russian players never returned from overseas when it ended however.

That’s precisely what almost went down according to Penguins star Evgeni Malkin. He tells SovSport as translated by Igor Kleyner of Capitals blog Russian Machine Never Breaks that he and other superstar Russians like Ilya Kovalchuk Alexander Ovechkin and Pavel Datsyuk nearly stayed at home last season.

While Kovalchuk did find a way to return home Malkin also says the lure of going back to Russia to play there will always be there and it’s something he might consider doing later in his career.