The "Andrei Effect"

Friday, 17.08.2007 / 2:48 PM / News
canadiens.com
MONTREAL – With the ink still fresh on the new four-year deal he signed with the Canadiens in May, Andrei Markov has every reason to be kicking back and taking it easy this offseason, right? Think again. Markov is doing anything but chilling out back home in Russia these days.
canadiens.com exclusive: Andrei Markov punishes himself at the Moscow Dynamo’s training facility in Russia.

Hard at work both on the ice and in the gym, Markov has no intent of slowing down in 2007-08. Whether he’s pushing himself to the limit on the bike, or fighting his way through drills on a secluded rink somewhere in Moscow, Markov is doing all he can to be ready for training camp which opens on Sept. 14.

The 28-year-old has had a little company this summer as he prepares for his seventh NHL season. He and longtime friend Maxim Afinogenov - whose connection to Markov goes back to their days with the Moscow Dynamo in the late 1990s - can often be seen hanging out together, be it hitting the weights or horsing around at practice. The same can be said for good pal Alexander Ovechkin, who has also regularly teamed up with Markov for workouts back home this summer in Moscow.

Ovechkin, it seems, has gotten over the heartbreak of seeing Markov opt to stay in Montreal rather than test the open market and possibly join him in Washington.

Markov remaining on the Canadiens’ blue line was on the other hand music to the ears of one Habs defenseman in particular, Mike Komisarek. With the veteran Russian rearguard by his side last season, Komisarek reached new heights, setting career highs in goals, assists and points. The “Andrei Effect” was also felt by Craig Rivet in 2005-06, with the now Sharks defenseman having set new benchmarks of his own thanks to Markov.

Top 10 defensemen with the most assists in the NHL in 2006-2007
Scott Niedermayer ANA 54

Sergei Gonchar

PIT

54

Nicklas Lidstrom

DET

49

Tomas Kaberle

TOR

47

Brian Rafalski

NJD

47

Chris Pronger

ANA

46

Ryan Whitney

PIT

45


Andrei Markov

MTL

43

Dan Boyle

TB

43

Bryan McCabe

TOR

42

While Sheldon Souray’s breakout offensive campaign stole headlines, it was Markov’s steady all-around game that was the glue that has bound the Habs’ blue line in recent years. Also lost in the shuffle was the fact Markov set new career highs in points (49) and assists, with his 43 helpers also ranking in the NHL’s top 10 among defensemen. 

Points and assists aside, what Markov most prides himself on is his blanketing of the league top stars night after night. Making life difficult for the opposition has become second nature for Markov. Such thankless work can often go unnoticed, but nothing brings a smile to his face like the sight of a frustrated NHL All-Star staring across from him.

With only a pair of goals in eight career games against Markov and the Canadiens, his buddy Ovechkin has learned that the hard way.

Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com