Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Andrei Markov Jersey Card

After four games and a full week of play, who leads the entire NHL in plus/minus?

None other than Andrei Markov, one of my favourite players in the entire world, perhaps the most underrated defenseman of the past decade.

The General has captained Team Russia on a couple of occasions, and has won gold once (at the 2008 World Championships in Québec and Halifax), silver at the 1998 World Juniors and bronze three times (1997 World Juniors, as well as at the 2005 and 2007 World Championships).

He's a quiet leader who chooses his words very carefully, which has long made him an underdog in talks of being the next Montréal Canadiens captain; the only Russian player ever to hold that title has been Alexei Kovalev, and the flamboyant forward only did so when Saku Koivu was out of commission. But Markov's not in it for the awards or the glory.

An old-school Russian, he plays hard, facing only forward and not stopping until the final buzzer sounds, preferably in a win. No matter how the win is acquired, as long as he knows he's done his best and that the end result is satisfactory.

It ts that mentality that got him to become the premier passer from the blue line despite being a contemporary of Nicklas Lidstrom and Scott Niedermayer. He's as happy watching someone else score off a one-timer from one of his through-four-pairs-of-skates passes as he would be sending it himself past the opposing goalie.

It's what makes him an ideal candidate to wear the ''A'' on his jersey, the fact that everything is always so meticulously calculated, so precise, like a game of chess - whether it's what happens on the ice or what he tells the media in post-game scrums. He takes the time to reflect, pauses, then goes for the kill in one short stroke. Ten seconds later, he's made his point.

Because he speaks so little and because English is his second language, some journalists have had a hard time deciphering his true intentions, reading way more into his words than he'd intended to let on - but that's not his problem.

More often than not, though, everyone's just content with the way he lets his play speak for itself. Chances are P.K. Subban will also make the Habs' all-time list of great defensemen, but in my opinion, Markov ranks right up there on the second step of the pedestal, alongside Serge Savard, Larry Robinson and Chris Chelios; Doug Harvey stands alone on the top row, while Jean-Claude Tremblay, Émile ''Butch'' Bouchard and Guy Lapointe are on the third step of the podium.

Here is #79 blasting one towards the net, on card #GJ-AM from Upper Deck's 2011-12 Series 1 set (part of the UD Game Jersey sun-set):
He's wearing the team's white (now-away) uniform, and the card includes a blue game-worn jersey swatch - presumably from the Habs' red (home) jersey.

No comments:

Post a Comment