MONTREAL – For years, Canadiens fans were well aware of what Andrei Markov
meant to their team. Now it seems fans around the league are finally starting to take notice.
The NHL released the results from the first six days of the All-Star Fan Balloting on Tuesday and the 28-year-old leads all defensemen with 48,134 votes and is second only to Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby in the overall totals.
“It’s a big surprise for me,” admitted Markov when the media gave him the news following practice. “It’s a good feeling, being recognized like that. I don’t do anything special. I just try and do my best on the ice and help make this team better.”
Blue line partners since last year, Mike Komisarek says it’s about time his road roommate and locker room neighbor got his due.
“It’s great to see him get that recognition. He’s been tremendous,” said Komisarek. “He may not be one of the most vocal guys but his play speaks for itself. He’s really taken it upon himself to pick up this team.
“I’m just happy to be playing with him and riding his coattails,” he added with a laugh.
Head coach Guy Carbonneau has known for sometime what his top defenseman was capable of, including witnessing one of Markov’s best campaigns in 2006-07. But for others outside the city to realize what he was all about, apparently putting pen to paper back in May was all that was needed.
“I guess the contract woke up a few people outside of Montreal,” said Carbonneau. “With Sheldon’s [Souray] departure, he’s been working extra hard. Not only is he contributing offensively, but he’s a pillar on defense. He’s proving right now that he’s among the league’s best.”
While hockey fans around the world are now more familiar with Markov, the 28-year-old is also allowing himself to be noticed. Once a guy that the media spoke about more than they spoke to, he’s been willing to give the sound bites this year.
“You guys never came to me! I’m definitely more comfortable. It’s not my first year,” laughed Markov.
He’s been comfortable on the ice for many years and while he’s hit career highs in points over the last couple of seasons and is off to a solid start once again, he has no plans to put it in cruise control and stay at the same pace.
“I hope my best start is going to be in the future and I hope it’s going to be much better,” said Markov.
If that’s the case, All-Star nods won’t be much of a surprise anymore.Heather Engel is a writer for canadiens.com