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Andrei Markov was a famous Russian mathematician of the 19th century. He was mostly known for his work on stochastic processes, which became known as Markov chains. He became Professor of Math at…Huh? What’s that you say? I’m supposed to be talking about Andrei Markov the hockey player? Alrighty then.
The tits – great two-way D. Fabu quarterback on the PP. 49 points last year made him Habs’ fourth best scorer. Very solid in his own end, almost always playing against the opposing teams’ best players (Alex Ovechkin has called him the best D in the league, though they are like BFF’s, so take that with a grain of salt). His +2 last year is really the tits next to Souray’s minus 4000. He skates very well, can move the puck up the ice nicely, and a great passer. Also likes playing in Montreal (chose to sign here as a UFA), which is a rare quality. Has hockey smarts. Logs major minutes.
The cellulite – not really physical (c’mon, he’s Russian!). He may not be so durable, with assorted back and lower-body problems over the last few years, though he seems to play through it most of the time. Not the biggest guy either. The Habs site has him listed as 6’0” 200 lbs, but that must be in high heels after 20 bowls of borscht.
The armpit hair – every now and then he’ll make a gaffe in his own end. Not quite to Breezer standards, but he can look silly. His decent shot would kill several fans a year if not for that new netting behind the goals in NHL arenas.
In the VIP Room– Markov is fresh off signing a four-year, 23-million dollar deal. The signing of a big deal always has two possible outcomes in sports. Player X, now secure in his financial future and rewarded for past successes, can concentrate on actually playing and have a great year. Alternatively, Player X becomes lazy and disinterested now that he’s rich. Unfortunately, you never know which you get.
Chez Parée bound? In a Hummer stretch on top of a big pile of money with many beautiful ladies. Ready to take his place among the league’s elite D.
8.5 lap dances (out of 10) – I know this is the second 8.5 I’ve given, but trust me, I’ve got a lot more crappy players coming up. Markov deserves it, maybe even a 9. Could easily be our MVP this year.
The 4 AM Smoked Meat Sandwich:
HF10 - He makes his defence partners better, which is a good sign. Everyone is waiting for him to "break out" as a top-ten guy, but here's a newsflash: he's already 28. I think his ceiling isn't far away, which makes him a very valuable piece, but probably not a perennial Norris contender. Below the Lidstroms/Prongers/Phaneufs of the world, but easily the best we have.
Panger - Sorry HF10 but you're wrong, 28 is not too old to take that step. Some good players need strong teammates to get them over the hump into elite status - think John Leclair when he joined Lindros in Philly. I'm betting, however, that Markov is the opposite - now that Souray is gone and he is the undisputed "Man" on the Habs blueline he's going to take a step up into Elite Defender status. But then I'm an optimist.
HF33 - I don't know if his signing with Montreal this year really warrants the tits. I think it is more refelective of a decision taken by a real introvert who has had significant difficulty adapting to life away from home. In short, during his entire tenure with the team Markov has not looked happy. In that sense he reminds me of another hugely talented - on the cusp of greatness - Russian defenceman: right, Vlad Malakhov. The similarity in their demeanour is striking. They labor through a season with this heavy aura of sadness, this quiet and collapsing discomfort very near them wherever they go. For Markov, this has caused significant problems in learning English and has delayed the enmeshment with the team. The anxiety he seems to be struggling through would have been revisited in a move to another city, something he obviously was compelled not to experience again. He is the team's best on the blue line, but these afflictions signify that the team cannot depend on him to lead them to wherever it is they are trying to go.