MONTREAL – Michel Therrien nicknamed Andrei Markov “the general”, but I had a different nickname for him. For me, Markov will always be known as “The Moneymaker” because, to put it bluntly, he helped several players with whom he stood in line to win some of the biggest paychecks in their careers.
On Thursday, the 41-year-old, who was best known for his incredible vision, his first perfect passes and his magic power play, permanently left professional play and did it as discreetly as he got there.
That Markov’s retirement was ad by Sport-Express journalist Igor Eronko in a 215-character tweet, which was later confirmed to several media by agent Sergey Isakov and devoid of a single comment from the man himself, was entirely made appropriate. Markov’s acting was noisy, expressive and avant-garde in many ways, but his character far from the ice left much to the imagination.
There are men of few words, and then there is Markov. He was the master of the answer in a nutshell. He had a sense of humor as dry as the Sahara and relied on him almost exclusively when dealing with journalists – striking in a monotonous tone. And it wasn’t until he suffered from fools, it was that he suffered from no one.
As a result, few of us in the media have really known the real Markov in 16 seasons with the Montreal Canadiens.
Heck, speaking with them, few players who have dressed by his side during this period have gone beyond his gruff exterior to really connect with him.
But everyone (media and players) understood perfectly what made Markov a special hockey player. Even a guy like Mike Cammalleri – whose three seasons with the 2009-2012 Canadiens coincided with the deadliest part of Markov’s career – could offer a perfect description.
“He had the ability to make games that the other guys just didn’t have,” Cammalleri told Sportsnet in a telephone interview Friday morning. “He had a lot of deception when he died. He was one of those guys who could swing a seam pass or a cross ice pass or a pass through the middle without anyone reading what he was going to do. It has become much more fashionable now; these games are currently encouraged by coaches, but at the time, the mentality of most coaches in their systems was to keep the puck on the wall.
“But Marky had this ability to just look at the wall and hide it – especially on his forehand – and throw a pass through the middle and hit someone directly on the tape. And sometimes the guys didn’t even suspect it, the passes were so good. I remember his ability to make it really stand out. “
It was not only the vision, the creativity and the transition that marked me. Markov’s defensive play was as solid as possible. His physical play was as underrated as his ability to kill on penalties, and it was because he was so captivating and brilliant in attack that these things were largely overlooked in the assessment of his overall play.
As far as his offense is concerned, you’ve seen him shine the most on the power play. Markov’s consciousness allowed him to squeeze through the cover of many backdoor objectives and it allowed him to synchronize his pinches perfectly. His quick reflexes kept the pieces destined for death on the offensive blue line alive. His sheer skill has improved everyone around him.
Cammalleri only sampled it for 65 games over that three-year period, but that was enough to make a lasting impression.
“He had this heel curve and he was hitting and hitting and hiding it with great deception on the power play,” said Cammalleri. “He had the ability to freeze people. He freezes the defenders, freezes the goalie and makes a pass that, A) people do not suspect, and B) people were not inclined to try.
“Again, it has become much more popular now, but if you look at the games a decade ago, coaching was always in the spirit of trying to simplify it and simplify it in many ways. You still hear the clichés and rhetoric of it, but it’s much more open-minded now. When it was closed, it didn’t matter to Markov; he just had the confidence to make the game he thought was best for the team at this point. “
Markov almost always made the right pass, and so many players took advantage of it.
It was these games that Markov made that helped Sheldon Souray score 26 goals and 64 points with the Canadiens during the 2006-2007 season – establishing the hard defender for a $ 27 million contract he signed for five years with the Edmonton Oilers in no time.
With Souray gone, Mark Streit became the next beneficiary of Markov’s brilliant game. The Swiss defender had a 13-goal, 62-point season that was rewarded with a $ 20.5 million five-year contract with the New York Islanders in the summer of 2008.
And then there was Mike Komisarek. His contusion style at home was a perfect complement to Markov’s puck movement, junction and pinching methods, but he would be the first to say that playing with the 6-foot, 200-pound Russian was the main reason there. won a $ 21.5 million five-year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the summer of 2009.
It was only a few months later that Marc-André Bergeron came to the Canadiens with his NHL career hanging on the edge. But even during part of an injury-ridden season, Markov did his part to boost Bergeron’s power play production and played a central role in helping him win the first of two other Lightning contracts. Tampa Bay thereafter.
P.K. Subban won a Norris Trophy en route to payment of $ 72 million over eight years, but not without the help of “The Moneymaker”.
As a young Canadiens fan, Subban idolized Markov. As a teammate and defense partner later, he quickly understood why Markov was able to help everyone around him.
“What made him great, I think,” said Subban on Friday, “was his ability to identify the strengths and weaknesses of his teammates and adapt his game to make things work. “
– Sheldon Souray (@SSouray) April 17, 2020
Markov knew the adaptation well.
The Voskresensk native was originally a forward selected by the Canadians in the sixth round of the 1998 draft. He came to North America without much fanfare and quickly became one of the most prestigious defenders in the world. And before all was said and done, he was awarded NHL star status, Olympian, world champion and Gagarin Cup winner in the KHL.
In 990 regular season games with Montreal, Markov scored 119 goals and recorded 572 points – more than any Canadiens ’defenseman not named Larry Robinson or Guy Lapointe. And his 60 power play goals place him second among the Canadiens ’defensemen behind Robinson, who scored just five more but in 212 more games.
Along the way, Markov won $ 63,190,853, but by representing himself in his final negotiations with the Canadiens, he failed to conclude the contract that would have enabled him to fulfill his dream of playing his 1000th game with the only team of the NHL he never played for.
He won millions more thanks to a two-year contract with KHL’s AK Bars Kazan and, after an unsuccessful attempt to return to the NHL last summer, played the last season of his illustrious career with a contract. year with Yaroslavl of KHL. Lokomotiv.
“The General” was an appropriate nickname for Markov. The man was a fierce competitor who battled many adversities – two torn ACLs and a broken Achilles tendon – to consolidate his place as a legend and respected leader.
But I will always think of Markov as the guy who helped make his partners much richer than they had ever dreamed of.