The Athletic’s Rob Rossi got a really good story about Evgeni Malkin’s mental state and mindset as he retreated to Russia this summer seeking to re-establish his fitness and re-find his game. It’s a terrific, tremendous article that you should read.

One of the juiciest nuggets was the Malkin / Phil Kessel relationship, that according to Rossi escalated to a “one of them has to go” situation.

While that seems very drastic, down the line Malkin’s quoted as saying he wants to re-sign with the Penguins when his contract ends in three seasons after the 2021-22 season.

“It’s (a) huge next three years,” Malkin says. “I still want to play 100 percent — and sign (for) three more years with Pittsburgh.”

So I mean take of that what you will if Malkin was really ever to the point of trying to angle out of Pittsburgh. Feels a bit over-dramatic to make a nice story and grab a headline, but hey.

Bottom line is it certainly looks as if Phil Kessel’s stint in Pittsburgh was always going to be over due to off-ice attitudes, behavior and personalities that just weren’t going to be able and last coinciding with personalities like Malkin and coach Mike Sullivan.