2011 NHL off Season: Could Andrei Markov End Up with the Leafs?
Let me preface this by saying that this, in no way, is an actual rumor.
An interesting discussion took place on Montreal's Team 990 radio station last night about pending unrestricted free agent Andrei Markov.
Hosts Trexis Griffin, Moe Khan and Nick Russo (of the Midnight Snack), questioned how Montreal Canadiens fans would feel if Andrei Markov ended up with the rival Toronto Maple Leafs this summer.
They questioned how much he would be worth on the open market, if it would be worthwhile bringing him back to Montreal, and for how many years.
Of course, the image of Andrei Markov in the Blue and White is something that could keep a Canadiens fan awake at night. At first thought, most fans would simply brush the notion off as an impossibility.
The team's longest serving player has been a staple of the team's defense for over a decade. He has publicly stated his love for this city, and has taken less money to sign here in the past.
Despite all this, Markov ending up in Toronto isn't as unlikely as it sounds.
Regardless of what you may think of Brian Burke, keep one thing in mind: he always gets his guy.
When Chris Pronger demanded a trade out of Edmonton, Burke identified him as the missing piece to a Stanley Cup winning team and acquired him.
When Brian Burke wanted Phil Kessel, he went out and got him. He identified Mike Komisarek as a player he wanted to sign, so he went out and signed him as well.
When Dion Phaneuf was placed on the trading block, Burke was able to make the deal.
Whether or not you think these moves were good or bad, whether they helped his team or not, is not the issue. In some instances, like the Kessel deal or the Mike Komisarek acquisition, he overpaid. In other instances, like the acquisition of Chris Pronger and Dion Phaneuf, Burke committed highway robbery.
The real issue to be concerned with is that when Brian Burke identifies a player that he wants, history has shown us that he is capable of acquiring him.
Andrei Markov would be a perfect fit in Leaf-land. He could be the answer to reigniting Komisarek's career. He could be the perfect set up man for Dion Phaneuf on the power play. He would be the most able replacement for a departed Thomas Kaberle.
Habs fans should understand the value of Markov better than anyone.
Last year's defeat in the conference finals against the Flyers may have gone the other way if the Canadiens had their best player in the lineup. They may have challenged for the division title this season if Markov wasn't injured. He plays in all game situations and has shown the ability to play 30 minutes a a night when needed.
Of course, he may no longer be the player he once was. Markov has just had his second knee surgery in as many years. Giving Markov a long term contract is dangerous, as he may not have the same skill set he once had.
But what if he does?
What if Brian Burke throws caution to the wind and decides that Markov is his team's best chance of becoming a serious contender in the Eastern Conference?
What if he's right?
How would the Canadiens faithful feel if the Markov we all know and love turned to the Blue and White because Pierre Gauthier no longer believed in him?
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