|Andrei Markov leads all NHL defensemen with five points in three games.
MONTREAL - On the ice, the sight of Andrei Markov
leading the way on the Canadiens’ blue line this season is nothing new. As for his performance off the ice, that’s a different story.
Besides being the Habs’ top point-getter to start the season, Markov also leads the league among defensemen in points (5) and goals (2). In his seventh NHL season and armed with his new four-year contract, the 28-year-old is now more the team’s blue line anchor than ever.
According to his defensive partner and road roomie Mike Komisarek, Markov deserves to be considered right up there alongside the NHL’s elite defensemen. That’s pretty serious praise for a player selected in the sixth round by the Canadiens in 1998.
“Marky makes the types of plays only he can possibly make. His vision out there is amazing and he always seems to be in the right spot at the right time,” said Komisarek. “With Sheldon [Souray] not being around anymore, he has definitely stepped up and now takes up more room on the team this year.”
After being a man of few words to say the least since breaking in with the Canadiens in 2000-01, Markov has begun to break out of his shell. Gone are the days where Markov would greet the sight of a microphone the way a child would a serving of brussel sprouts.
“He’s obviously never been a big talker off the ice,” added Komisarek, Markov’s blue line partner since last season. “But now he’s talking now more than ever and taking on a lot more responsibility. He’s developed into a true leader.”
For the gifted Russian in question, highlight reel plays and glowing statistics don’t mean as much as enjoying the game.
“I really just try to have fun, that’s the only way I’ll make this team better,” said Markov, who looks more comfortable in front of the camera every day. “It’s always been more important to me to win as a team than get individual points.”
Now under contract through 2011, Markov has no precise objectives in mind for this season apart from improving his game with every shift.
“I never come into a season with a plan. All I really want to do is win,” admitted Markov, who co-leads NHL defensemen along with Francois Beauchemin and Nicklas Lidstrom. “I believe you can always learn something new, either during a game or at practice. That’s why I always give it everything I’ve got whenever I’m on the ice.”
In any language that spells one thing—leadership.
Félix-Antoine Viens is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Manny Almela.