Ask any parent and they will tell you that while you love your children, the toughest decisions are often the ones that will, in the short term, hurt their feelings the most. But those parents will all recognize that those tough decisions are for the better of their children. Managing a hockey team does, in many ways, resemble raising a family as the decisions made have a drastic impact on the future of the players and the team, sometimes at the risk of hurting feelings.
PENTICTON, BC. — This past summer, Habs’ GM Pierre Gauthier stuck his neck out and made a decision that could very well end up costing him his job at the end of this season when he signed soon to be UFA defenseman Andrei Markov to a three year, $17.25 million contract. Gauthier was under the impression, from talking to team doctors, that Markov would be ready in time for the beginning of the season or soon thereafter, in spite of his two major knee reconstruction surgeries.
With less than 20 per cent of the season remaining, the All-Star defenseman, who had only taken part in seven games last year and 45 the season before, has yet to suit-up for the Canadiens this season. Taking a precious $5.75 million on the cap hit while not knowing when he would be back are factors that tied Gauthier’s hands to find a replacement when the team was still in the hunt for a playoffs’ spot and could very well end up costing him his position this summer.
With the team all but mathematically out of any playoffs’ hopes, it looks as though Markov is close to being ready to make his much anticipated comeback. As this date approaches, all eyes will be on the Canadiens’ best defenseman — it is crucial for management to see him perform in order to know what to expect for next year and make plans for this summer. After almost two full seasons off the ice and with very little regular training, will he be able to regain the same level of play people remember and expect of him? How will his knee react and how tentative will Markov be when faced with the physical day to day grinding down the stretch?
Still, many fans and media in Montreal are left wondering about Markov’s true motivation to come back at this time. Many remember when, in February 2010, the Canadiens had a very important back to back two-game series against the Philadelphia Flyers, and Markov was injured and could not play. The Habs lost those two games by a combined score of 9-4 and people recall vividly the picture of Markov on the ice the next morning with Team Russia in preparation for the Vancouver Olympics.
Is it remotely possible that Markov could return and want to take part into the upcoming IIHF World Championships? One does not need to claim being a rumour mongerr to know that if given the chance, Markov would take it. If I’m the Canadiens’ owner and management team though, I can see that train wreck coming from miles ahead and I’m gearing myself for a tough decision… which might hurt Markov at other places but his knee. Oh there is no denying the importance, for a player from overseas, to represent his country. But the Canadiens have over 17 million reasons to be cautious with their prized defenseman.
Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.
About the Author (Author Profile)Habsterix is a fictional character created for the sole purpose of the internet. Based on the cartoon Asterix of Gaule, his magic potion is his passion for the Montreal Canadiens. How old is he? His close friends will tell you that he’s so old, his back goes out more than he does! He was born when Béliveau lifted the Cup and remembers the days when seeing the Habs winning was not a wish, it was an expectation. For him, writing is a hobby, not a profession. Having moved to beautiful British Columbia in 1992, he started writing mostly in French to keep up his grammar, until non-bilingual BC friends pushed him into starting his own English Blog. His wife will say that he can be stubborn, but she will be the first to recognise that he has great sense of humour. He is always happy to share with you readers his point of views on different topics, and while it is expected that people won’t always agree, respect of opinions and of others is his mission statement.
Sites That Link to this Post
- GameDay: Habs vs Oilers Lineups, Muller, Pacioretty | All Habs | March 8, 2012
- GameDay: Habs vs Canucks Lineups, Higgins, Tinordi, Mortensen | All Habs | March 10, 2012