Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Be afraid, Habs fans. Be very afraid.

Yesterday, Pierre Gauthier announced Andrei Markov would not be ready to start the new NHL season. This is not good news. Gauthier signed Markov to a 3-year contract extension in June, banking that it would be okay to let Roman Hamrlik, who carried the bulk of the injured Markov's minutes for the last two years, walk. He also let James Wisniewski, who wanted Markovian money to stay in Montreal, go. Now, if Markov can't play, there's nobody with experience and applicable skill to step in for him.

There's no word on how much time Markov will miss. We don't know if it's just training camp exhibition games, or the first five games of the season, or the first twenty. That he's not ready, after having had his knee surgery nine months ago, is discouraging regardless. Josh Gorges had similar surgery just seven months ago and he's good to go. That Markov is not is of serious concern to Habs fans.

Of course, not every player responds to surgery in the same way. Markov is older than Gorges and underwent his second operation on the same knee within a single year, which Gorges did not. Still, the thought that Gauthier has put all his GM eggs in one D-man basket is cause for concern, especially if the shells are cracked.

Maybe this is just a minor bump in Markov's road to recovery. We have to hope it is. If not, the bright, shiny season we were hoping for just a week ago may be at least a little tarnished today. Without Markov, Jaro Spacek will have to play bigger minutes, and one of Raphael Diaz, Yannick Weber or Alexei Emelin had better be ready to take a regular shift in the NHL. If they aren't, Gauthier will have to hit the free agent scrap heap for yet another temporary replacement or trade yet another second-round pick for one. He's got money to spend, but at this point there's little left on the free agent market. Brian McCabe is out there, but he is to Markov what Mikhail Grabovski is to Sidney Crosby. It's not an avenue the Canadiens really want to explore at this point in the year.

Worse, if Markov is going to be intermittently hurt for the next three years, the Habs won't able to make any concrete plans for the future. That's not fair to either the player or the team.

Andrei Markov is extremely valuable as a player and a person for the Canadiens. Unfortunately, if he's not able to play at the level we're accustomed to see him at, his value as a player is diminished. For a team that's banking on him to regain his all-star form, this is at least worrisome. At worst, it's a serious setback.

This has the potential to be very bad, Habs fans. We'd better cross everything and hope the Canadiens and Markov are just being careful. The alternative does not bear thinking about.


Chuck said...

"Jaro Spacek will have to play bigger minutes" alone gave me the heebie-jeebies

Anonymous said...

Your very first statement is wrong, PG didn't say that Markov wouldn't be able to start the season, he said that if the season started right now then he wouldn't be ready. The fact of the matter is no one knows what is really happening with Markov, only Markov and his doctor's, he could be ready for the start of the season. And even if he isn't the team has proven that the can play well without him, he is only one player on a very good team!

Anonymous said...

Markov always comes back too early. Think back.

punkster said...

Maybe we wait a bit before jumping off the bridge? Not that we can't start lining up but it's a long way down and best not to take that first step until we have all the details.

Steve said...

If he only plays the playoffs for the next 3 years its a good investment

Anonymous said...

Love your work JT but seriously, this sounds like a slight setback in his rehab and an ensuing Montreal Media and Fan Panic Attack (MMFPA).
This occurs all the time in the epidermic Montreal fanbase and media shark tank.

All Gauthier said was that Markov would not take part in pre-season games and that they were not sure he could suit up for the opener on October 6th.

The team is better prepared for his absence now that it was in years past anyway (hello PK Subban).

I say this: lets take a collective DEEP Breath, calm down and wait for what Markov has to say today.

Anonymous said...

Having water on his knee is a very minor setback. The knee was pretty much 100% ready to go 2 months ago, I'm sure they are just being ultra cautious to avoid infections and arthritis in the knee.

Emmanuel said...

We've got Woywitka to help out on the blue line as well; Diaz may not have to play regular NHL minutes in Markov's absence


Markov got water in his knee for over training meaning that if he paced himself he would have been fine. Water had to be taken out. It might be another month of training to strengthen the ACL and the muscles around it. Markov can take as long as he likes (to an extent) to fully heal. We know the Habs can beat the best of the best without him, so having Markov in the lineup boosts the team up a level or two standings wise. I have confidence in Markov, as does the management team of the Habs. Here's to hoping Markov reaches a full recovery sooner than later. Go Habs Go!

Anonymous said...

Markov is not ready today but he could be on the day of our starting season..... thats what Gauthier said yesterday.

In the meantime there are benefits to gain from not icing Markov during the lenght of our pre-season matches..... thats more ice time to our kids from the Euro leagues, to our guys in Hamilton and to some of our rokkies bound to return to their junior teams, not to mention players like Gorges, Spacek and Weber who will also take advantage of it for their own specific reasons.

There are no reason to rush in Markov at the beginning of the season either, its not like our PP will go stale without him or that our 5-on-5 game will sudenly become irrelevant without him or Hamrlik replacing him.... no,no,no,.... this team has enought good parts and enjoy the type of cohesion that is needed to adapt when situations are not at their best..... shure Markov will give this team more wings and more of everything when he returns but there is nothing to worry about even if he was to missed the first month of the season.


Anonymous said...

He did not have a serious set back, nothing was injured, they are being cautious. Time too move on.