Tuesday, February 16, 2010
The scene: Last Thursday. A trendy shopping area in downtown Montreal. A rather well-known Canadiens defenceman emerges from a store, laden with packages, just as a black sedan with tinted windows rolls up to the curb.
Russian woman from the car: Hello, Andrei. Get in.
Markov: But I...
Woman: I said, get in. You don't want to upset the boss. Believe me.
With a sigh of resignation, Markov yanks open the back door and slides into the car
Woman: Thank you, Andrei. You are a wise...what are all of those bags? I thought my sister shops a lot.
Markov: I was getting a head start on Christmas shopping. Turtlenecks and Nickelback CDs were on sale. What do you want?
Woman: That is not for me to say. I am instructed only to collect you and deliver you to the boss.
Markov: Which one do you work for?
Woman: I can say no more.
After several minutes of seemingly aimless driving, the car pulls into an underground parking lot. It's met by two large men in dark suits.
Man one: Hello Andrei. Thank you for coming.
Markov: Well, it's not like I had a choice.
Man two: Ha ha. You joke, Andrei. There is always choice. Come with us now. The boss wants to give you a choice.
Markov: Look, I don't know who your boss is, but I'm going to be late for practice if we don't hurry this up.
Man one: Ah, do not worry about practice. You need to rest yourself for the Olympic tournament.
Markov: Well, I need to be there. I've got this back strain I'm trying to rehab for tomorrow's game.
Man two: No need to worry about this game. You are injured.
Markov: Yes, but I might be well enough to...
Man one: (interrupts) Enough. The boss will tell you more. I can say nothing else. Is that a bag full of turtlenecks? Never mind. I do not want to know.
They take an elevator to the building's top floor and exit in a sumptuous suite dominated by a massive desk. A man, obviously the boss, stands in the shadows.
Boss: Andrei. My friend. I thank you for coming. How is your back feeling?
Markov: Um...not bad. I can practice, but I'm not sure I can play.
Boss: Ah, Andrei. I would offer you a vodka, but we really have little time today. You will play. Is your back as painful as the backs of the coal miners in Siberia? Is it as exhausted as the backs of Dzerzinsk prostitutes?
Markov: I guess not.
Boss: Of course it is not. And of course you do not want to be a Siberian coal miner or a Dzerzinsk prostitute.
Boss: Oh, nothing. Nothing at all. You are hearing things.
Markov: But the team doctors say I'm not ready to play. If I do not play against Philadelphia, then I play at the Olympics, people will ask questions.
Boss: I think you will find our doctors will clear you to play. The injury will be minor and you will be ready.
Markov: That's not what Doc Mulder said. He told me...
Boss: Tsk, tsk, Andrei. You are so far from home you forget how knowledgeable are our own physicians? How great their medical advances? They will look at you and you will play. Your country needs you.
Markov: But my country would be better served if I felt a hundred percent.
Boss: It is not for you to ask how to serve your country. Your country says you'll be playing, back or no back. I am betting on it. Heh heh. I make a little joke there.
Markov: I don't get it.
Boss: You don't need to get it. You just need to play. You really need to play.
Markov: But what will I say to Montreal fans? They will be angry if I seem too hurt to play for them, yet I play for Russia.
Boss: You are the silent type, yes? You say nothing. Anybody who thinks you would not try your best for your Canadiens is a fool. If anybody gives you trouble, if they do not appreciate you, you come to me and I will have a job for you.
Markov: Not in Dzerzinsk, right? I'm serious. I won't go there. Anyway, this is pointless. I love Montreal and I want to do what's best for my team.
Boss: Your country is your team. I'll send your love to the Siberian coal miners. You may go now.
Markov: Hey...aren't you Alexander Medvedev? I knew I recognized your voice.
Medvedev: Get out now. Our meeting is done. I will see you at the gold medal game. Ivan! Daniil! Escort our guest to his destination, please. Good bye, Andrei.
The two goons materialize behind Markov and turn him toward the door. They hustle him back to garage and into the car.
Ivan: I hope your visit was productive, Comra...I mean, sir.
Markov: Yeah. Productive is one way to put it.
Daniil: Where would you like to be let out?
Markov: Drop me at the rink. I'm going to need a couple of extra hours of physio. (sighs)
Ivan: Best of luck at the Olympic Games. We know you will be playing there. Ha ha.
Back in his office, Medvedev makes a phone call
Medvedev: Hello? Bettman? How are you doing getting Getzlaf to play? I think I should tell you, I got Markov, and your North American babies are going down. I hope you are keeping the Coyotes nice and warm for me. I'll be picking up the keys to the offices after the gold medal game, sucker!
Posted by J.T. at 11:22 PM