The NHL lockout hasn’t officially ended, but already we have our first Canadiens’ controversy involving Andrei Markov.
With a tentative agreement reached to end the lockout, Markov decided to suit up and play with his Russian Vityaz Chekhov squad on Tuesday – his second KHL game since a new CBA was negotiated.
The NHL’s board of governors meets Wednesday afternoon to ratify the agreement, and the players must approve it in an online vote for it to become official. As of faceoff Tuesday at 5 p.m. Markov’s time, the lockout was not formally over.
“I signed a contract here (with KHL Vityaz) during the lockout,” Markov told The Gazette’s Dave Stubbs on Tuesday. “Right now, I’m doing what, in my opinion, is the right thing. I’m still here.
“I still belong to (Vityaz) but I also belong to Montreal. As soon as they (meaning the Canadiens or the NHLPA) call me to let me know, or the league announces the lockout is over, I’m going to pack my bags and fly back to Montreal.”
Following Tuesday’s 3-1 Vityaz win, in which Markov played 18:19, he text-messaged Stubbs confirming he’d be on a Thursday flight back to Montreal.
You can read Stubbs’s column on Markov by clicking here.
Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin made it clear during a press conference Monday that his priority is to sign restricted free-agent defenceman P.K. Subban before the club opens training camp, possibly this weekend.
“I haven’t seen the new (collective bargaining agreement) and we can’t get a contract done until it’s ratified, but I have had preliminary discussions (with Subban’s agent Don Meehan) and we want to get it done as soon as possible,” Bergevin said. “My goal from Day One was to sign P.K.”
Read more by clicking here.
While Subban will eventually get a contract, Mathieu Darche’s future is uncertain. After playing a key role with the NHLPA during negotiations with the league for a new CBA, the 36-year-old free agent doesn’t have a job.
“I really don’t know what’s going to happen,” Darche, who was a prominent member of the NHLPA negotiating committee, told The Gazette’s Pat Hickey. “When we finished up a little before 5 on Sunday morning, all I wanted to do was get home to watch my son play at noon. We had basically been negotiating for 39 hours and I caught up on my sleep Sunday afternoon. I had one message from my agent which said we would talk (Monday).”
You can read Hickey’s column on Darche by clicking here.
Darche isn’t the only veteran free agent left in limbo by the lockout. Monte Stewart of The Canadian Press reports that while much of the free-agent attention will be on Subban and Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars, there will be more of a scramble for older veteran UFAs. Read more by clicking here.
You can read TSN’s NHL Preview story on the Canadiens by clicking here.
Postmedia News national columnist Cam Cole says the Canadian team owners are the quiet villains of the lockout. Read his column by clicking here.
Meanwhile, if you’re a Bobby Orr fan you’ll be happy to know that the Hall of Famer will finally tell his life story in his own words with a new book, Orr: My Story, slated to be released in October by G.P. Putnam’s Sons. Read more by clicking here.
(Photo by Dave Sidaway/The Gazette)