Apart from his bald head, Andrei Markov certainly doesn't look like a forty year old.
A very fit Markov with a t-shirt, shorts and sneakers, he sat for an interview Tuesday afternoon in a downtown Montreal hotel, where he is on vacation this week with his family. The former Canadiens defender hopes to return to the NHL next season after playing the last two years in the KHL with Ak Bars Kazan.
"I know I'm 40, but I don't think I'm 40," said Markov, who hopes to sign a one-year contract with an NHL team for next season, preferably the Canadiens. "I worked hard during the summer and did some things I had never done before. I worked a lot this summer and I don't see it now … we'll see what happens."
Markov never wanted to leave the Canadiens, but was unable to reach a contractual agreement with GM Marc Bergevin two summers ago. Instead, he returned home to Russia with his family and helped Ak Bars Kazan to win the Gagarin Cup as KHL champion in his first season, when he scored 5-28-33 total in 55 games and was over-7. Last season, Markov scored 2-12-14 totals in 49 games and it was more than 13 with Ak Bars Kazan who was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.
When asked Tuesday what he missed most in Montreal, Markov replied: "Everything".
"It starts with bad roads and crazy traffic," he added with a smile. "He's probably playing more for the Canadiens. When you get on the ice you hear the fans, they are so passionate and support every game and feel the crowd behind you. That feeling is a bit like something special, you know. "
The Canadiens selected Markov in the sixth round (162nd overall) of the 1998 NHL Draft and continued to play 16 seasons with the club, scoring 119-453-572 total in 990 games. Achieving the goal of the 1,000 NHL games is something that Markov wants to do, preferably with the Canadiens. Only five men have ever played 1,000 games with the club: Henri Richard (1,258), Larry Robinson (1,202), Bob Gainey (1,160), Jean Béliveau (1,125) and Claude Provost (1,005).
"It's something you want to be there," Markov said on the milestone. "It's important, you know. But the most important thing is probably trying to play another year in the NHL, to show that I can still play at that level."
This means that if the Canadiens are not interested, Markov is willing to listen to offers from other NHL teams.
"You never know," he said. "Now I'll say & # 39; why not?" For example, if Canadians don't want me anymore and any other team gives me an offer or gives me the opportunity to play, I will probably take it. "
If there is no interest from the NHL, Markov has not ruled out the possibility of returning to KHL.
"Yes, maybe," he said. "As I said before, he will most likely be my last year as a professional hockey player. I will have fun. I will go somewhere just to play, I will go somewhere to have fun, to enjoy the game, you know."
The Canadiens have missed the playoffs of the last two seasons without Markov. During his last season with the Canadiens, Markov totaled 6-30-36 total in 62 games and was more than 18 against an average of 21:50 of ice time.
When asked if he had a message for Canadiens fans, Markov smiled and said "Be patient".
He added: "I would like to thank them for all the support they have given me and that they always give to the team. Be passionate, continue to believe. Everyone knows that it is not easy, Canadians from Montreal are not easy to play (for). … But when fans support players, it gives them a lot of power. "