Andrei Markov said he couldn’t imagine playing for another NHL team besides the Canadiens

STU COWAN

Andrei Markov said he couldn’t imagine playing for another NHL team besides the Canadiens, which is why he’s now headed to Russia to play in the KHL.

During a conference call Thursday afternoon from his summer home in Florida, Markov announced he could not come to an agreement on a new contract with Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin and as a result was going to the KHL. Markov wouldn’t reveal the name of his new team because he had yet to sign a KHL contract.

On Friday morning, KHL reporter Alvis Kalnins reported on Twitter that Markov has come to terms on a two-year deal with AkBars Kazan.

Markov, who became an unrestricted free agent on July 1, was reported to have been looking for a two-year deal worth US$12 million. On Thursday Markov admitted he started out looking for a two-year deal, but was willing to sign for one year with the Canadiens. Representing himself without an agent, Markov wasn’t able to reach an agreement with Bergevin.

Markov didn’t want to get into details about the contract negotiations and the Canadiens said Bergevin was out of the country and unavailable for comment.

“I don’t want to go through the negotiations,” Markov said. “But to make a deal it always takes two people. I don’t want to go through the numbers, through the conversations, all that stuff. It is what it is right now.

“I don’t see myself with any other NHL team,” the 38-year-old added. “I didn’t see myself wearing another jersey.”

Markov said he did speak with other NHL teams and had a few options.

“I also had options to wait until September or October to see what was going to happen,” he said. “But I made my decision to move back to Russia and play in the KHL.” 

Here’s what Markov had to say about some other topics during the conference call.

On the contract negotiations with Bergevin: “In the beginning, yes, I was asking two years. It’s more for the security of my family and myself. I feel great and I’m in good shape. I’m not planning to retire any time soon. But in the end, I was ready to just stay in Montreal. I was ready to sign a one-year deal and it didn’t work. Like I said, I don’t want to go through the details, but it didn’t work.”

On representing himself without an agent: “It’s a new experience for me. But I knew in my heart that I was only to sign in Montreal and I had a good relationship with everybody in the organization. But it didn’t work. It was a good experience for myself. It is what it is right now. … I was nervous before July 1, on July 1 and after July 1. It was quite a new experience for me to represent myself. But for me that was the first option to stay in Montreal and finish my career there, but it didn’t happen. I move forward. That’s life.”

On his young family playing a part in his decision: “I put my family first. The reason why I did that so early the announcement. They (don’t) want to wait until September or October because I have to figure out for my family where we’re going to be. For the kids, where they’re going to start school, all that stuff. So I made that decision a few days ago and that’s it. … Plus it’s going to be tough for the family, for the kids, to move for example for one year to another city in North America. For them it’s going to be easy to adapt over there in Russia. So that was a hard decision, that’s it.”

On the way he was treated by the Canadiens: “I’ve always been treated well. I’m proud to be a Canadien for 16 years. I respect their decision. I’m a grown man and I’ll move forward. … I’m not blaming anyone. I respect their decision and I’ll move forward.”

On being only 10 regular-season games short of hitting the 1,000 mark for his career with the Canadiens: “It is tough. I made it clear at the end of the season that I wanted to stay with the Montreal Canadiens for the rest of my career, but it didn’t happen. It’s a business. I’m not blaming anyone. I’m ready to move forward and I’m looking forward for the future. But it is tough that I’m not going to play 1,000 games for the Canadiens … at least this year.”

On the possibility of returning to the Canadiens, or another NHL team, after a year in the KHL: “You never know. I’m not closing my door, especially to Montreal, and I’m not closing my door to the NHL. But today I’m going back to Russia and I think it’s going to be fair for many people. I’m not seeing myself in another jersey of any other NHL team. I was born in Russia, I started playing there and I want to go back and play my best game there.”

On the possibility of playing for Russia at next year’s Olympic Games, which won’t include NHL players: “I hope so. It depends on the way I’m going to play. If I’m going to play well and if I’m going to deserve to be part of the Russian team in the Olympics, I will be happy. But it’s not my decision. All I can do is just play my game, do my best and hopefully I’m going to be there.”

On his best memories with the Canadiens: “Probably the best memory is of the first game. Actually, at that time I wasn’t nervous the way I am nervous today, to be honest with you. It’s a long way … 16 years, I have such good memories and lots of memories. I played with great hockey players. The moment I’ll never forget is when Saku (Koivu) came back from his cancer. The crowd, the fans, it was amazing. A moment I’m never going to forget is the All-Star Game in Montreal. Each game is something special. The city of Montreal, it’s all about hockey and the fans are probably the best fans in hockey. To step on the ice every time at the Bell Centre it’s a special feeling and that’s something I’m never going to forget.”

On what he learned about himself as a man and a hockey player during his 16 seasons with the Canadiens: “It’s not easy to play in the NHL. It’s especially not easy to stay many years in the NHL. So you need to work hard, you need to be ready for the pressure of the media, you need to be ready for the pressure from the fans. Those 16 years are a big part of my life and I will remember that for the rest of my life. The experience I had here is going to stay with me forever. I don’t know what else I can say right now.”

On what he will miss most about the Canadiens locker room: “I guess the room will be empty without me. What I’m going to miss most is the atmosphere inside the locker room. The atmosphere, the feeling you can’t even imagine what kind of feeling is that. What I’m going to miss most is probably when you step on the ice, the crowd, the fans who support you all the time, each game. That special feeling, that’s what I’m going to miss most probably.”

(Photo: John Mahoney/Montreal Gazette)

• A sad day for Markov as he leaves Canadiens, by Stu Cowan

• Andrei Markov photo gallery from 16 seasons with Canadiens, montrealgazette.com

• We watched Markov’s pop-music video so you won’t have to, by Christopher Curtis

• Canadiens won’t bring back Markov, nhl.com

• Robinson praises what Markov brought to Canadiens, nhl.com

2,336 Comments

  1. GrimJim says:

    Aw, damn…


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