Sunday, November 29, 2009

Vladislav Tretiak and his shadow

Let me tell you, I felt mighty small standing next to Vladislav Tretiak after Saturday night's game, gabbing for about 15 minutes with one of the most influential players of all time.

I didn't want to post this stuff earlier because I hadn't written my story on Tretiak's thoughts on the upcoming Olympics yet. But now that I have, I thought I'd throw in some of the stuff he said that I couldn't get into my story.

First off, Tretiak was obviously not here to "scout" Alexander Ovechkin. His main purpose was to see Semyon Varlamov in action and also to check up on Andrei Markov. The two had dinner prior to the game and Tretiak said the main point he wanted to get across was that if Markov had any doubts about his status on Russia's Olympic team, he shouldn't.

"It’s very important that he play in the Olympic Games, because we like Markov very much," Tretiak said. "For me it was very important to support him."

Tretiak went on to say that support, when you are coming back from injury, can sometimes speed up the healing process. Let's hope he's right, and if so, why wasn't he here sooner?

There is no doubt in my mind that Markov wants to play in the Olympics, and his target for an early January return has to be linked to that in some small, tiny way. If Markov were to return in early February, as was originally estimated, he would only have a couple of weeks to shake off the rust before going to play in the fastest, most intense hockey tournament we know of. With six weeks of game action under his belt, that transition would be a lot smoother.

I'm not doubting Markov when he says he wants to be back so he can help (rescue?) the Canadiens, I'm sure that's his top priority. But somewhere in the deeper recesses of his mind, the thought of Olympic preparedness has to be lingering.

How do Habs fans feel about that? Is it good to send your best player off to the Olympics even if he's missed three months to injury? Can that benefit the Canadiens in some way? I guess if Russia wins the gold medal and Markov comes back to the team ready to taste that victory again, then maybe. But other than that, Markov playing in Vancouver will be a big risk with little potential reward for the Habs.

I'm not suggesting they should forbid him, even if they could, I'm just saying that two weeks off might help his shredded ankle heal just a bit stronger. But to even ask Markov to beg off on the Olympics would not be right, because if the NHL is going to participate it has to be all in. And as long as Carey Price doesn't somehow miraculously make Team Canada and actually get into a game against the Russians, then Markov should be fine, no?


Anonymous said...

Besides the risk of Markov aggravating the injury or, perish the thought, get injured in some other way, the upside is that the Olympic ice time and experience will help strengthen the area and get Markov in top playing shape for when he's back with the Habs in the regular schedule.

Justin said...

Markov understands the politics of hockey in Montreal. The Canadiens come first. As long as he doesn't rush it, he'll be a great addition to the Russian squad like he always has been.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I don't understand how Carey Price relates to this issue? Could you elaborate on that last point you made? it seems interesting.

Arpon Basu said...

It was a joke, seeing as Price is the one that hurt him in the first place. I guess it wasn't that funny.

Sliver24 said...

I got the joke. You're right, it wasn't that funny ;)

Seriously, though, if Markov can come back in January and the play through the Olympics without injury I think it may work out well for the Habs. He'll be getting into top shape just in time for the stretch drive after having missed 45 games.

Best case scenario, the Russians underachieve at the Games and Markov avoids the emotional drain that could be associated with a gold medal game. Fifth place would be juuuuuuuuuuuuuust right.