Andrei Markov was a staple on the Montreal Canadiens defense for years. After 16 years north-of-the-border, Markov will be taking his talents to Russia.
Thursday, the unrestricted free-agent announced he will play in the KHL next season, but did not rule out a potential return to the NHL and the Canadiens later in his career.
“I’ve decided to move back to Russia and play in the KHL,” Markov said to reporters on Thursday. “I didn’t see myself with any other NHL team. I didn’t see myself wearing another jersey.”
Markov was coming off a three-year, $17.25 million deal and was seeking a two-year contract. During the 2016-17 season, the top-pairing defenseman moved into a tie for second on the Canadiens’ all-time points by a defenseman list.
Through 990 career regular-season games, Markov registered 572 points (119 goals, 453 assists).
Although he did not cite this during his reasoning, Markov is now eligible to represent Russia in the 2018 Olympics.
In Andrei Markov, Russia has its No. 1 defenseman for the Olympics.
— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) July 27, 2017
The Canadiens’ president and CEO Geoff Molson released the following statement:
“On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to thank Andrei for his great contributions during his 16 seasons as a proud member of the Montreal Canadiens. Arguably one of the best defensemen in franchise history, Andrei was a model of dedication to the great game of hockey. A respected figure around the league and among his teammates, Andrei demonstrated leadership both on and off the ice. Andrei’s commitment to our franchise was second to none, proven by his overcoming three serious and potentially career-ending injuries. I would like to wish Andrei the best of luck in the next step of his career, and happiness with his family,” said Geoff Molson.
Former Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner, who the Canadiens signed to a five-year, $23.2 million deal during the offseason, will now likely take Markov’s place on the team’s top pairing.
Marc "Marc Bergevin" Bergevin pic.twitter.com/nzZCXHkEf1
— Adam Laskaris (@adam_laskaris) July 27, 2017
Markov was only 10 games away from reaching the 1,000-game milestone in the NHL.
Andrei Markov will not be back with the Canadiens for the 2017-18 season.
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) July 27, 2017
"You guys made me uncomfortable for so many years. I will miss you so much." – Andrei Markov to the media.
— Аrpon Basu (@ArponBasu) July 27, 2017
Headline Photo: Minas Panagiotakis
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