Category Archives: Andrei Markov

Habs Ice Caps

It wasn’t the most exciting game ever played, and hopefully many Caps fans took advantage of those seat specials featuring unlimited beer. The ones who didn’t probably feel ripped off, now that they’re slowly waking up..

Canadiens win a big road game, suddenly things are going swimmingly, and for the time being, happy days are here again. I know those L’Antichambre fellows on RDS are simply giddy in a big way after the big game. I wish I knew what they were talking about.

We can only imagine what the two previous years might have been like for the Canadiens if Andrei Markov would have been healthy and played full seasons instead of 7 games two years ago and 13 last year. Things might have been way different, the power play wouldn’t have been nearly so feeble, and who knows what might have happened in the spring. When we see Markov in control, we see one of the finest D-men in the league, and we need him on the ice, not in the infirmary.

As was the case two nights ago against Florida, the Habs came out on top 4-1 against the Caps, with Markov bulging the twine with the man advantage, as he had done twice against Florida. I say the obvious when I say we definitely don’t need another serious Markov injury. He’s the quarterback. He’s the guy helping Emelin and Diaz. He’s the guy getting it done while Mr. Subban sits at home not getting it done.

Carey Price was as solid as can be, again, and came withing just over two minutes of a well-earned shutout. We have to feel good about our goalie. It was obvious not much was going to get by him on this night, he was in full control, although Washington looked full marks for their poor start. They didn’t look quite as listless as the Habs against Toronto on opening night, but they were far from great. They might need some unlimited beer as well.

Random Notes:

Washington may not have been great, but they outshot the Canadiens 31-22. But Price was there, holding the fort.

Montreal was 2-5 on the power play.

The kids, Galchenyuk and Gallagher, were quiet but came up with a small handful of chances anyway. They’re getting their feet wet, and they’re doing just fine.

Ralphel Diaz, with five assists thus far, is the league’s leading d-man point-getter. Markov’s right behind with four points.

Next up – Sunday, when the New Jersey Devils show up at the Bell Centre.

The Leafs were leading the Islanders 3-1 after the first period tonight and ended up losing 7-4.

Jamie Benn has finally signed in Dallas for a reported five years, $26.25 million ($5.25 per year). Now we wonder about Subban again.

 

Habs Skin Cats

What a difference two days make. Flat and uninspired against Toronto, and full of life against the Florida Panthers. I think we should just write off the Leafs game, forget it never happened, and focus on what an exciting team the Canadiens can be when they’re playing well. The problem is, we know how the Canadiens can screw with our minds, so I guess we take it game by game.

For now though, life is good.

Maybe it was Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk bringing a youthful enthusiasm into the mix. The two kids, playing with feisty Brandon Prust, showed jump and spark, and lo and behold, Galchenyuk scored his first NHL goal, a deflection from a Prust shot, and the roof nearly came off the Bell Centre. What a glorious moment. What a sight to see this happen to a young fellow we hope will blossom into a huge star. He’ll remember his goal, and we should too. Hopefully it’s the first of a whole bunch.

Galchenyuk’s goal also meant it was Gallagher’s first point in the bigs, and linemate Prust’s first point as a Hab. So which one buys the beer tonight?

But it wasn’t just the kids and Prust reporting for work. It was Andre Markov blasting home two power play goals and Tomas Plekanec scoring an early first period marker from Brian Gionta to get things rolling. In fact, the entire team seemed alive and well and ready to make up for their dismal opening night display. Even seeing an animated Michel Therrien was a breath of fresh air after Jacques Martin’s stoneface and Randy Cunneyworth’s humanity towards his fellow man were what we had become accustomed to these last few years.

It was also Carey Price once again playing solidly and confident . If Price can continue all the way through like he has in the first two games, Montreal can get lots done. Good teams have good goalies, as we all know.

With Lars Eller and Michael Blunden sitting things out, the lines were the Desharnais trio, Plekanec with Bourque and Gionta, the kids and Prust, and Ryan White between Moen and Armstrong. All four combos showed up, got their noses dirty, and skated hard. But somehow, a spot needs to open for Eller at least, and we’ll see how this plays out.

The sky was falling two days ago and now it’s not. Funny how that happens.

Random Notes:

Shots on goal – 33-28 Habs.

Next up – Thursday in Washington. The Caps lost tonight to Winnipeg 4-2 and it would be fun to keep their slump going. Nothing like disappointing the home crowd.

Every win is a good win, but it’s even better when the Habs can do it without Subban. With Markov blasting away tonight, it shows that PK isn’t the only one who can send howitzers to the net.

 

 

Hockey? I’m Not Ready Yet

I woke this morning to the news – that NHL brains have made a sharp u-turn and hockey will begin again, maybe on January 15, maybe on January 19. (Details can be found on 8,537 news and sports sites).

I’m not ready for this. I’m not finished talking about Gary Bettman and rich hockey players yet. It’s too soon. It’s only January and it’s cold. Hockey should be played where it’s hot, like in Phoenix and South Florida. And how am I supposed to blog about actual hockey games forty-eight or fifty times in the next while when I’m out of shape? Players need training camp? So do I.

I just hope Bruins fans and others don’t keep bringing up the shortened season after Montreal wins it all. It’s going to be a nice, handy excuse for them – that they were just getting going and if it was any longer, they would’ve made the Habs look like the German junior team. This is what we’re up against. It’s gonna suck but we have to be ready for it.

I really was in a no-NHL-state of mind. I’d learned to occupy myself other ways on nights when hockey wasn’t being played. Like watching Sportsnet and TSN go on and on and on about hockey not being played. Good, quality entertainment.

I’m worried for some. Scott Gomez was on a roll with his Alaska Aces, notching six goals and seven assists in just eleven games. Now what? Now he has to stop scoring again. You have to feel for the guy. And Brad Marchand is only halfway through his grade seven course and will have to either stop completely or do homework on planes.

Maybe I can help Marchand, with this advice that comes via Eddie Shack. When Shack was playing, one of his teammates in the dressing room asked him how far he got in school, and Eddie said grade eight. When the other player asked how he managed to get so far, Eddie said it was easy, he’d lend the teacher his car.

It’s not just Gomez or Marchand. They all have to go back to work now. I know this feeling. A nice two or three week holiday and then I’m back in the thick of things and it’s hard. The players have been laying around and golfing and traveling to New York for six months now. Imagine what they’re going through. Hopefully they were able to keep busy. David Booth probably had a nice time blowing bears’ brains out, and Evander Kane had a nice picture taken of himself in Las Vegas holding a couple of three inch wads of bills and pretending the money was a phone. Now that’s fine humour. That’s how you keep busy.

I feel for the owners. Now they have to act like nice people when they show up at their private boxes, and that means they’ll have to tip the $9 an hour person who brings them their 20-year old scotch. Hollywood people can act like they’re nice and normal because they’re actors. Owners don’t have this luxury. They have every other luxury, just not this one.

What about Russian fans who’ve been flocking to KHL games this year? My stepson Denis in St. Petersburg says hockey in Russia has never been so exciting and invigorating to fans there. Now these players who took jobs have to come back to North America and not take anybody’s job and fans in the old country will be left with the team that once was. It’ll take some getting used to. And it’ll be nice for the captain of St. Petersburg SKA to get his “C” back now that Ilya Kovalchuk won’t be needing it anymore.

Can Montreal do well this year? It’ll be a sprint instead of a marathon, and who knows? It depends on how many games before Andre Markov gets hurt, and whether the power play can score sometimes. Maybe Alex Galchenyuk will be in the lineup! Let’s just embrace what we’ll have – a short race to the finish line. It’ll be over before we know it. Then we can get back to what we’re used to – no hockey.

 

 

 

Toenail Clipping

I find myself thinking more and more about the lockout and how it’s affecting me, and I have to say it’s not affecting me a great deal at all, other than having to dig deep to keep posting here every day.

I’m just sick of the whole mess, one created through greed, distrust and lies, and one that may never get truly resolved, even if they go back to work. It’s way too discouraging. I’m also tired of seeing hockey analysts on TV going on and on about it every day, of press conferences with Donald Fehr with sombre-looking players standing in the background, and hearing that the Winter Classic is cancelled, with the all-star game next. Which is fine because I despise the All-Star game anyway. Seeing smiling players in a big love-in isn’t my idea of the sport.

I’m tired of hearing about players signing with teams overseas – it’s boring and depressing, and every time I hear, it’s like another nail in the season-being-over coffin. And of course I’m tired of Gary Bettman, Bill Daly, and the word “millions.”

I’m just sick of it all, even to the point of putting personal hockey memorabilia away, out of sight, and making my museum-like room, which I’ve shown photos of here, more of a normal room. I hate the term “man-cave” and I’ve decided to do something about it. I’m too old for a man-cave, and I’m allergic to dust.

When PK Subban does the weather on TV, it doesn’t do anything for me. I don’t smile or laugh or have any kind of emotion. All I can think of is, why didn’t he sign a contract. When Andrei Markov gets hurt in the KHL, I’m nonchalant. When owners and players jostle over millions, I yawn. I’m too busy trying to get my ducks in a row so I can retire from the workforce and still be able to pay some bills.

I think about hockey players now and I think very little. With the Canadiens it’s always been about the team as a whole anyway. When I watch them, I see the sweater. I see the crest. I see if they win or not. Who wears the sweater makes very little difference. It’s how they help the team that’s important. That’s why I climb up one side of Scott Gomez and down the other. He hasn’t helped the team and thus, he deserves it. It goes with the territory.

If Josh Gorges or Erik Cole came to Powell River, it doesn’t matter, even though they do a good job for the team. I wouldn’t go out of my way. I don’t want their autographs. Trevor Linden was in town recently, played road hockey just around the corner from me, but I stayed in the house and clipped my toenails or whatever. This sort of thing just isn’t important to me. Yes, if it was Jean Beliveau, I’d seek him out and ask him to tell some stories about another time, about Plante and Harvey and the Rocket and such. Being coached by Toe Blake. With Josh Gorges or Erik Cole, I’d really have nothing to talk about.

I won’t be watching when Toronto plays Pittsburgh or Columbus takes on the Devils, or any other of the hundreds of meaningless games (to me) around the league. I could care less. I have toenails to clip. It’s only about the Habs crest and the team winning. Everything else about the NHL means nothing. The lockout, money, and the previous disputes, have made me tired.

 

Luci’s Day

Today marks a very special day for my wife Luci, and for me. Because Luci arrived in Canada on this day ten years ago.

I first met Luci in 1991 in Leningrad, Russia during a very historic time, with the Soviet Union about to collapse. We were both still married to other people and it happened that we became good friends. She had studied English in university which made it easy to chat, and I thought she was very kind and lovely. It was only later on, to make a long story short, that both of us ended up divorced and eventually together.

Luci and I were married twice – in St. Petersburg, Russia on May 10, 2001, and then in Powell River on Sept. 27, 2002. She became a Canadian in 2006, and she’s a working, contributing, and very proud Canadian.

She never had a single house with lawn or yard before, and now she spends most of her summer hours tending to her flowers and feeling peace of mind as she weeds and chases the odd deer from our yard. When I first met her and her family in Russia, they were living in an apartment with four other families and sharing one kitchen and two bathrooms. I remember when they had to relinguish a main room in their apartment when someone came back, and so they cooked and ate in one apartment, then walked down a block and up five flights to another to go to bed. But it’s all behind her now, and she says this has been the best ten years of her life, which makes me very happy. I think it’s the best ten years for me to0.

Luci also loves the Habs. The year they eliminated both the Caps and Pens, she’d go outside in the dying moments of big games because she couldn’t stand the suspense. The Habs would be leading, and she’d ask from outside if it was over yet. She loves Carey Price and PK Subban and is very proud of Markov and Emelin, but last year left her down and depressed by the dismal performance of the bleu, blanc et rouge. Now she asks me every few days if Subban has signed yet.

I’m really proud of my Luci. It was an extraordinary move for her to leave her homeland and come here. She’s loved by all who know her, she’s fit right in, I think she’s beautiful, and if it wasn’t for a divorce that hurt a whole lot at the time, I wouldn’t be with her now. So some things really do happen for a reason.

 

P.K. Gives Thumbs Down To Offer

P.K. Subban and his agent have rejected the initial offer put forth by the Canadiens, which was, according to RDS, $2.75 million a year for two years ($5.5).

As Mike Boone at Hockey Inside/Out mentioned, it would put PK fourth-highest behind Andrei Markov ($5.75), Tomas Kaberle ($4.25), and Josh Gorges ($3.9), which just doesn’t seem fair considering the major role the young fellow has been placed in.

PK deserves a nice raise over the $875,000 he collected last year, and $2.75 million would indeed be a nice raise, although it’s not enough. Hopefully he and his agent will come back soon with a figure that’s not ridiculous, and one that makes everyone happy, including us. Maybe $3.5 million a year? Close to Gorges? Why not?

And doesn’t it burn your ass to be reminded that Tomas Kaberle is the second-highest defenceman on the team, being paid, but not earning, $4.25 million.

 

 

Only Four Left

The Canadiens fall 4-1 in Manhattan, and that’s fine. The enthusiasm and edge-of-the-seat experience of watching the Habs was sucked out of me, and I’m sure you, long before tonight. They were outplayed by a better team, and as a coup de grace of the whole ridiculous situation, Andrei Markov may have injured a knee again.

Only this time it’s his left knee instead of his right. I have no words.

There’s really nothing to report. Rene Bourque finished off a nice Tomas Plekanec play, and although it’s nice that Bourque finally bulged the twine after 16 games, you or I could have scored on this play so it’s not really worth mentioning.

It’s great that the Habs lost. We can’t be winning and blow a nice draft pick now can we.

I’m trying to get enough words in here to make this a proper post, but I’m coming up short. Blake Geoffrion finally laced ’em up after sitting for a half dozen games. The Canadiens allowed two power play goals. Ryan White maybe has the flu, or maybe they’re just saying that so Geoffrion could suit up.

Random Notes:

Saturday night, the gang is in Washington, home of the baseball team that used to be the Expos. Alex Ovechkin at this very moment may be eating borscht.

Just four games left. Four games too many. Watching the Habs now is like listening to early cuts from American Idol.

Shots on goal – who cares.

 

Be Tough And Smart, Like Emelin And Markov

 

I can’t say for sure of course, but I’m willing to bet that when the moms of Andrei Markov and Alexei Emelin visit their boys, the first thing they do is whip up a big pot of borscht. Same with Mrs. Ovechkin and Mrs. Datsyuk and Mrs. Malkin and the rest of the Russian mama brigade. I’ll just bet they do.

I’m not a big fan of this soup. It’s quite red and it smells like cabbage and beets. Probably because it has cabbage and beets in it.

Regardless, I’m giving you a gift today. Be smart like Markov, tough like Emelin, crafty like Datsyuk, explosive like Ovechkin and Malkin. You can be all of these, if you eat your borscht.

Here’s what you do, compliments of Luciena Kane.

Take a big pot and fill it three quarters full with water. Three quarters of a pot will keep you in borscht for days on end. You can take it to work with you.

Boil small pieces of beef in the pot until beef is tender.

Fry onions in a frying pan. As many as you want. Try not to let your tears drop into the pot.

Throw onions, grated beets and carrots, along with green peppers and tomato paste, into the boiling water. Don’t put your finger in the water when it’s boiling.

Add potatoes and cabbage to concoction.

Cook everything in the water until the potatoes are soft. Softer than Gomez, Bourque, and Kaberle.

Put in a bowl, top off with sour cream, salt, and parsley, and eat like crazy.

And while you’re doing that, I’m having a cheeseburger. I know I’m bad. A hundred million Russians can’t be wrong.

Canadiens Magazine Gives Us Emelin

Every so often, Rich the trucker shows up at the ferry terminal and hands me his Canadiens magazine, which I appreciate greatly. He’s a big Habs fan, this fellow, he lives in Vancouver, and when he comes through, we talk Habs.

When this happens, my work effort drops from 140% down to 125%. But it’s important. It’s the future of the team at stake. (please note, a few years ago I wrote about another trucker named Rick, in Ottawa. Two different truckers. And Rick in Ottawa is a Senators fan).

Rich’s latest edition includes an interview with Alexei Emelin through a translator, and I’ve been waiting for something like this since the big guy joined the team. I’ve been curious to know what his thoughts are about life here and being in the NHL, and among others things, I found out that he wanted come to Canada and play for the Habs from the get-go, but was lied to by his agent.

The article explains that Emelin wanted to come and play for the Habs right away after being drafted 84th overall in 2004, but every time he asked his agent, the guy told him Montreal didn’t have an offer for him. And it wasn’t until Emelin had spoken to a Canadiens’ Russian scout, who told him how much the team wanted him, that he realized his agent had been less-than-truthful with him.

Emelin’s problem was that by the time he had found out, he had just signed a three-year deal in the KHL, and because he’s an honourable guy, he played out his contract. But once that was finished, he, along with his wife and daughter, were on a plane to Canada.

And yes, he has a different agent now.

Emelin also discusses the plate inserted into his face. He was in a scrap with Avangard Omsk forward Alexander Svitov, and when Emelin was down, Svitov sucker punched him in the face, his orbital bone was fractured, and major surgery was needed, which included a titanium plate put in. Now, if he fights it could damage the plate so although he plays a rough, tough game, he tries to keep his checks clean to avoid penalties and another sucker punch. I don’t blame him.

Speaking of Svitov, I saw him play in St. Petersburg when he was a junior, in a tournament against the Swedes. He was big and dominant, and when my Russian friend asked me during the game which player impressed me, I said Svitov. I liked him then but I don’t now. I’m not a fan of players who sucker punch others when they’re down.

But back to Emelin. He admits in the article that coming to Canada hasn’t been easy, the culture and language is difficult to get used to, and he says the game is much faster in the NHL than in the KHL. Learning English has been a trying experience, and he wants to understand the coaches better and enjoy the dressing room camaraderie more, which can only come when he gets a handle on the language. He first relied on Andrei Kostitsyn to translate, but with him gone now, Andrei Markov is back to pick up the slack.

I noticed at the game in Vancouver that the two of them chatted constantly on the ice, and my Russian wife Luci told me that seeing that tugged at her heart strings.

The hard-hitting defenceman feels he’s making progress in English now and says he understands maybe 40% of what’s going on, mostly thanks to watching cartoons with his four-year old daughter Lesia. Kids naturally pick up languages quickly, and he’s trying to keep up with her. They watch Dora the Explorer together, and all in all, as he gets more comfortable in his new surroundings, he admits he’s really happy in Montreal, happier than he thought.

Don’t forget, North America isn’t always the heaven on earth for others that we think it should be. Their home is their home, and I understand that. But things are working out splendidly here for our bruiser.

Canadiens magazine is a nice read with tremendous photography, and I await Rich the trucker’s next issue. And did you know that Mathieu Darche’s favourite song is Wild Horses by the Rolling Stones?

Markov Out Tonight

Hockey Inside/Out reports that Andrei Markov won’t play tonight against the Senators because of an upper-body injury. Well, we got three games out of him after a year and half which is more than what some thought.

The only time I saw Markov receive some sort of injury in the last game was when he took a puck in the mouth. Is that the upper-body injury? Or is that a lower-face injury?

There’s been no shortage of folks who have believed all along that this guy is completely injury-prone and we shouldn’t be relying too heavily on him, and maybe they’re right. Or are the Canadiens playing games with us? Is he injured? Has his knee problem returned and they’re not telling us? Or is it a real upper-body injury that isn’t serious and we’ll see him back next game?

Three games and he’s out again. It’s giving me upper-head problems.