Hours after the Montreal Canadiens announced that Andrei Markov would not return, the defenseman made his own decision. Markov will be headed to the KHL as he has agreed to a one-year deal. The team is currently unknown as he has yet to officially sign the contract.
Andrei Markov Headed to KHL
Markov was taken by the Canadiens at the 1998 NHL Entry Draft. He has not played for another team so far in his career. In 990 games, the defenseman contributed with 119 goals and 453 assists. While he is 38-years-old, Markov is still considered a top defenseman in the league.
Markov says he cannot see himself wearing any other NHL jersey but that of Montreal's. Has decided KHL is best option for family. #TSN690
“I’ve always been here and most probably I’d like to finish my career here, so we’ll see what’s going to happen in the summer,” Markov told reporters in April.
During his career in Montreal, Markov appeared in the second most games by a Canadiens defenseman. He also finished with the second most points, behind Larry Robinson. In 1,202 games, Robinson scored 197 goals and assisted on 686. While he trails Robinson, Markov has more points than players such as Doug Harvey and Serge Savard. Both players have their numbers retired by the team.
Markov had expressed his interest in remaining in Montreal, but the team had other plans. After signing Mark Streit to a one-year deal the writing was on the wall for Markov. The Canadiens wanted to wait until September or October before deciding. However, Markov wanted to provide stability for his family.
While he did field offers from other teams, Markov made it clear that he did not want to play elsewhere. In going to the KHL, Markov will be eligible to play for Team Russia at the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics.
While Markov did not completely site the Olympics as a reason, he is among a few Russian players that have made the move to the KHL. Roman Lyubimov and Ilya Kovalchuk specifically cited the Olympics as reasons for returning to the KHL.
"I'm not closing the door. But, today I'm going back to Russia." – Markov on possibly returning to Montreal in the future
Markov made sure to mention that retiring was not in his current plans. He also shared that a return to the NHL is a possibility. More importantly, a reunion with the Canadiens is not off the table.