A few weeks ago, I was able to order my Malkin Olympics name / number t-shirt, but was perplexed to see it was #11 instead of #71.
Since then, I've been trying to find out exactly why he needed to wear a number other than the one he currently wears playing in the NHL, but haven't come across anything until yesterday in an article on the Penguins webpage.
It indiretly stems from the fact that #17 has been retired by the Russians in honor of Valeri Kharlamov ("legendary Soviet star"). Ilya Kovalchuk normally wears that number, so he chose #71 which forced Malkin to pick another number - #11.
Malkin actually chose that number because it was the one he wore when he was young.
“I wore No. 11 until my first game in the Super League when 11 was taken by an older player,” Malkin said. “I took 71 because it looked similar.”