Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Habs Injury Update... or, What Were They Thinking?!
UPDATE: The suspicions we speculated as to in the morning were confirmed by mid-afternoon as reports indicated that Markov had a setback during the summer, requiring water be drained from his knee after he had trained too hard and quickly to be ready for the upcoming season.
A full update as to his health should come following physicals on Friday. It is concerning, however, as this does not seem like a regular setback over the course of recuperating from his procedures and may hint at other serious problems.
Alarm bells went off in the minds of many Habs fans yesterday when it was revealed that Andrei Markov did not take the ice with the multitude of veterans who skated amidst the second day of Rookie Camp.
The questions turned to concern when Markov skated in the afternoon along with injured prospects Louis Leblanc and Olivier Fortier, a sign that perhaps he is still rehabbing his injuries.
And still later in the day, that concern turned to near panic when a statement from the Canadiens read that Markov "would not play in any of the team's preseason games if he were not yet 100%."
Now I'm not one to freak out over a blanket statement that doesn't necessarily mean much of anything. Perhaps Markov will be at full strength within a week or two and be ready to join his teammates in full practice.
But there is a bigger worry here. When Markov signed his 3 years, $17.25M deal with the Canadiens this summer, many were quick to jump down Pierre Gauthier's throat. No one wanted to see the general of the Habs' blueline take his services elsewhere, but that's a lot of money over a long term for a player who played a combined 52 games over the past two seasons. One would think, before making such a commitment, the club would have been certain that Markov would be at 100% health from day 1 of his new contract. Right? RIGHT?
That's definitely the line I took in defending the deal. "Who knows better about Markov's health than the Canadiens staff themselves," I reasoned. "If they feel he is worthy of this contract, they must strong believe he'll be back to his old self."
While this remains to be seen, and certainly taking precautions with his return to the ice doesn't mean he won't be able to play at a high level, today's statement won't rest well with Habs fans. One would think the organization would be aware of the concern of the fan base and the effect such an ominous announcement would have. This means either there is nothing to see here and it was just a typical answer to the media, or the fact is this is the beginning of tapering fans expectations for when it's announced that Markov is out of the line-up in Toronto on October 6th.
Look, I love Markov, and can't wait to see him back on Bell Centre ice. But $5.75M a year should get you a strong top pairing d-man who can anchor your back-end on a nightly basis. With the departures of Roman Hamrlik and James Wisniewski, the Canadiens do not have the depth needed at the NHL level to replace a Markov who would miss significant amounts of time. By signing him to this contract, they've put their faith in the fact that he will dress for a vast majority of their games.
I'm still not against retaining his services, but how he got a 3-year term without taking a paycut and before receiving a clean bill of health is totally beyond me. I hope Markov makes me eat my words and dresses for close to all 82 games this season, topping the 50 point mark, but until that point, I'll remain skeptical on this one. I'm not suggesting they should rush him back into action either. Just wondering who thought it would be a good idea to sign him to this contract before being confident in his recovery.