What's Next For Bob Gainey and the Markov-Less Habs?
Montreal Canadiens fans ran the gamut of emotions on Thursday night. They were thrilled that their beloved rouge, blanc, et bleu beat the rival Maple Leafs 4-3. But they were also concerned because the key to the Habs' success, Andrei Markov, left the game in the third period and didn't come back.
Then fast forward to Friday morning. As Habs fans were waking up from dreaming about how great that win last night was, joyfulness quickly spread to sheer panic when they read the news.
Andrei Markov to be out for 3-4 months after having surgery to repair a lacerated tendon near his ankle. Their team would be without their most important player until after the Olympic break.
In Habs Land, smiles turned to sobbing, happiness turned into horror.
The loss of Markov is a big one for Les Canadiens. Many pinpointed him as being the key to their success. The man who would help to lead them into the playoffs. Now that he's gone, there is a huge hole to fill.
Defenceman Roman Hamrlik will return to Montreal's lineup on Saturday night after battling the flu for much of the pre-season. He will likely be put in the spot that Markov was supposed to occupy. On the top defensive pairing alongside Jaroslav Spacek.
The Habs are also expected to call up promising young rookie Yannick Weber from the Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL.
But neither Hamrlik or Weber can even come close to filling the hole left by Markov being out for so long.
So what is General Manager Bob Gainey to do?
There are a few out of work hockey players who might be able to help. Some names that come to mind are Marc-Andre Bergeron or Christian Backman.
Or what about Patrice Brisebois? Yes he did retire only one week ago. But the man can still play. And reports have said that Brisebois made it clear that he would consider a comeback if Montreal really wanted him badly enough.
Still though, those three options seem like long shots. But Gainey can't just leave things the way they are. With Hamrlik and Weber left to fill the massive hole, and to hope for the best. Though with Bob Gainey you never know. Many times it has looked like a trade would make sense for the Habs, but Gainey has stuck to his guns and remained loyal to his roster.
At the same time, Montreal does have another problem on it's hands. The very un-happy Sergei Kostitsyn.
Kostitsyn was sent down to the Canadiens' AHL affiliate Hamilton Bulldogs at the end of training camp. But he is refusing to report and has demanded a trade. Because of this, Gainey has suspended the Belarussian forward.
It doesn't appear likely that Kostitsyn is set to change his tune anytime soon either. He recently sat down for an interview with Yahoo Sports and when asked if he see's himself playing with the Canadiens again, he didn't seem very optimistic.
"I don't think so." stated Kostitsyn.
Perhaps Gainey can kill two birds with one stone. Fill the hole left by Markov by offering up Sergei Kostitsyn in a trade for a defenceman.
Hockeybuzz's Devils-looking-for-a-Center-Sens-more/1/23371" target="_blank">Eklund reported on Friday that both the Nashville Predators and Los Angeles Kings are interested in Kostitsyn and would be good candidates. That's because both teams have young defenceman that Montreal would be interested in.
Some names that might be considered could be Predators defencemen Ryan Suter or Dan Hamhuis. Or from Los Angeles perhaps Matt Greene, Jack Johnson, or Rob Scuderi.
There are many options for Bob Gainey in the coming days. All of which I'm sure he will mull over endlessly.
Many hockey insiders and fans believe that the Canadiens can not go far without doing something to fill the massive hole left by Markov's injury. The question is, does Bob Gainey agree? We will have to wait and see.
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