Question now shifts to where he fits into the Habs’ long-term plans
Seeing Andrei Markov crumpled against the boards has unfortunately become a familiar sight for fans of the Montreal Canadiens. From Markov’s own reaction Saturday when he punched the boards with his fist [either in frustration, pain or both] he knew something was very wrong and was probably saying the same thing fans were: “not again!”
Since April 2009, Markov has missed 52 regular season games (and counting!) & 15 more in the playoffs. While it is still unknown how much time the snake-bitten defenceman is expected to miss following his fourth major lower-body injury in the past three seasons, the news is not expected to be positive. To make matters worse, this is a contract year for Markov.
With all that time missed recently, the Canadiens know they have to learn to play without their two-time all-star rearguard. The team posted a 7-2-1 record in their first 10 games of the season without Markov. Apart from this past October, the Habs haven’t been too victorious without Markov’s services:
- April 2009: Habs lost final 4 regular season games & all 4 playoff games being swept by the Bruins in the first round.
- Start of 2009-10 season: Habs go 14-16-3 after Markov goes down with a sliced tendon in his ankle opening night in Toronto. Overall in the playoffs, the team were 5-6 without him.
While Andrei Markov is definitely irreplaceable; P.K. Subban’s development into a smooth skating, puck-moving defenceman in the NHL, the Canadiens’ defence-first mindset preached by coach Jacques Martin and not to mention the incredible play of goalie Carey Price eases the sting of losing Markov just a little bit.
Prior to his return October 30th, there was discussion amongst fans & media alike as to what the organization should do in lieu of Markov’s impending unrestricted free agency status. For the man of few words, Markov becoming a Canadian citizen this past summer said it all of his desire to remain in Montreal past this season. He is a steadying presence on the blueline, has tremendous vision on the ice, a poignant shot and he’s one of leaders on the team. But, at 31 years old with the list of injuries piling up, how much money and what length of contract would be appropriate?
Some would argue he shouldn’t get anything near the $5.75 million he’s making this year, but if you’re Markov’s agent looking at other premiere defencemen in the NHL for a comparable [think Zdeno Chara & Duncan Keith], nothing under $6M a season would be acceptable. Mike Komisarek is slated to make $5.5M next season for crying out loud! Markov nearly topped Komisarek’s career stats back in the 2008-09 season! Not to mention, the talent pool of players of his calibre will be very few & far between this summer [Tomas Kaberle the only other that comes to mind]. It will be interesting to see how Pierre Gauthier approaches contract negotiations going forward with this new injury as talks were expected to begin once the team observed how he responded from the ACL surgery this past spring.
In the end, there will be life after Markov; there has to be, especially if he is expected to miss months of action. But whenever he is ready to return, he will be welcomed back with open arms by the organization and the fans because no matter how good the team are without him, they are that much better with him.
(Photo by Shaun Best, Reuters)
About the Author (Author Profile)Priyanta is really a Montréaler at heart, but just so happens to be from Toronto. Her passion for hockey landed her a job at The Score Television Network as an assignment editor. Her job requires her to watch, read & talk sports all day! She is rarely seen out without heels on (hence the Twitter handle), but don’t let the girly-girl image fool you: this chick knows her hockey! Priyanta is a graduate from Ryerson University's renowned Journalism program.
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- Habs’ Andrei Markov out “long term” with knee injury | ProHockeyTalk | November 16, 2010