by Caitlyn Golem, Staff Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

Andrei Markov (Photo by Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports)

This off-season marked the end of an era in Montreal. The Canadiens announced that they were parting ways with Andrei Markov. The veteran defenseman had spent 16 seasons with the Habs.

Markov was drafted 162nd overall in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, but proved himself a valuable selection over the course of the next decade and a half. He became one of the league’s most underrated defensemen and the very backbone of the Canadiens’ defense.

Over his 16 seasons in the NHL, Markov battled through 990 games, earning himself 119 goals, for a total of 572 points. Markov and the Canadiens could not come to terms on an agreement for the upcoming season leaving him just 10 games short of a milestone.

Time and time again, Markov proved his resilience through an array of injuries. In October of 2009, Markov ploughed into Carey Price’s skate and suffered a lacerated ankle. He was expected to be out for four months, but made a comeback in half that time.

In his first game back on December 19th, Markov even managed to net two goals in a 3-0 victory over the New York Islanders. In 2010, Markov was plagued with more injuries. He was taken out of the 2010 playoffs due to a leg injury after being hit by Matt Cooke. Then, in November of 2010, Markov suffered a season ending knee injury that required surgery.

Markov made up for his age and lack of speed due to his various knee injuries, with his incredible vision and ability to move the puck. He used his years of hockey knowledge to his advantage to outsmart other players so they hopefully could not use their own speed against him. Another of the many skills Markov possessed was his ability to be a force to be reckoned with on the power play with his blistering shot and his puck-moving capabilities.

To help Habs’ fans reminisce, I will present you with some highlights from Markov’s career.

  • He was an impact player, this single period in 2006 attests to that:

  • Andrei Markov was a true Canadien at heart so naturally he had his share of highlight reel moments against the Boston Bruins over the years.
  1. His game-tying goal with eight seconds on the clock:

2. What Canadiens’ fan didn’t enjoy Lucic being on the receiving end of a huge hit:

  • Markov became the oldest defensemen in Canadiens’ history to tally five points in a game on October 23rd, 2015.

  • Markov’s final point in a Canadiens’ uniform (at least for now) was one that put him in the history books. He earned a point on a goal by Artturi Lehkonen to tie Guy Lapointe for second in franchise history for points by a defenseman.

Markov was named an alternate captain for the Canadiens in September of 2014, alongside teammates P.K. Subban, Max Pacioretty, and Tomas Plekanec, as the team did not have a captain. The following year, Pacioretty was named the team’s captain and Markov as well as Brendan Gallagher were named the alternates.

One moment that stands out above all others in demonstrating his dedication and love for the Canadiens was on July 16th 2010 when he took oath to become a Canadian citizen. Markov told reporters, “I’m happy to be here and proud to be Canadian”.

The media then asked him if he would play for Team Canada, but he gently turned them down saying, “I’m never going to play for the Canadians, sorry”. From that moment on, it was clear that he was a true Canadian as he had said the all-important, ‘sorry’.

Markov generally said a limited amount to the media and probably frustrated them on many occasions over the years that they couldn’t get more out of him, but he even gave them a shout out in his closing comments:

If you are an Andrei Markov fan and are bummed about him not playing in the NHL, he made a declaration that may ease the pain, “I am not planning on retiring any time soon. Don’t worry about that, guys.”

I, being only 21-years-old, cannot recall a time when Markov was not part of the Canadiens, and the news that he would not be re-signing with the team certainly was tough to swallow. That said, the NHL is a business, and at least the Canadiens did not overpay for the veteran’s services.

It would have been wonderful, had the Canadiens and Markov been able to come to terms on a contract, but on the bright side, perhaps we will have a familiar face participating in the Olympics this year. Also since announcing he would not be back with the Canadiens this season, he has signed with the Ak Bars Kazan in the KHL.

There are so many moments that come to mind when I think of Andrei Markov’s tenure with the Canadiens and it is hard to sum up 16 seasons but I leave you with the final word Markov gave the media, “merci.” Merci Markov – for everything.