It seems fitting that a sports element has mixed into the story of Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen and his alleged ties to the Russian mafia in the New York area. They’re public figures with ample money that can become targets.
Rolling Stone magazine has an extensive piece on Cohen, giving more insight on the man and more depth to nefarious characters he has ties to. The one interesting element that works its way into the piece is a former NHL player’s name and a check for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Vladimir Malakhov’s name isn’t one that should stand out in general NHL fans minds… At least I don’t think so (hey, I’m in Tampa Bay – it’s not like we don’t get accused of being a non-traditional market with no fans). He was drafted by the New York Islanders in 1989 and played until 2005-06 in the NHL, playing 712 games and spending ample time with New York tri-state area teams as well as time in Montréal with the Canadiens. The defenseman’s tenure with Les Habs is where the cited incident with Cohen and Russian mafia elements in New York plays out. From the Rolling Stone article:
A curious episode in Cohen’s life came in 1999 when he received a $350,000 check from a professional hockey player named Vladimir Malakhov, who was then playing for the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens. According to Malakhov, the check was a loan to a friend. The friend, however, swore in an affidavit that she never received the money and never even knew the check had been written until it was discovered years later in a Florida lawsuit. So what happened to the money? One interesting lead was an incident involving Malakhov, who was approached in Brighton Beach and shaken down for money by a man who worked for the Russian crime boss, Vyacheslav Ivankov. “Malakhov spent the next months in fear, looking over his shoulder to see if he was being followed, avoiding restaurants and clubs where Russian criminals hang out,” according to testimony an unnamed Russian criminal gave to the U.S. Senate in 1996.
Malakhov’s best seasons in the NHL were 1996-97 through 1998-99 while he was with the Canadiens which would explain why writing such a hefty check would even be possible: his production was a gateway to a hefty contract with the Rangers in the summer of 2000. The where of that contract and the Cohen piece being riddled with organized crime makes you wonder if a third-party had a hand in coaxing Glen Sather to sign Malakhov for so much…? But that’s just drawing conclusions on my part.
The piece on Michael Cohen is worth a read for background on the man (he’s nicknamed “Tom”, a reference to Tom Hagan and The Godfather). The Malakhov element adds a twist as an example of Cohen’s connections and dealings.