Last week, Andrei Markov drew the ire of Canadiens fans when — in an interview with a pair of Sovietsky Sport journalists — he said he wasn’t sure if he’d leave his KHL club, Vityaz Chekhov, to rejoin the NHL once the lockout ends.
This week, he clarified his stance.
“My priority is to play in the NHL, to come back to Montreal,” he told the Montreal Gazette on Thursday. “This isn’t just about me. All players want a fair (CBA) agreement, right?
“If that happens, I’ll be in Montreal.”
The firestorm began when RDS’ Hockey 360 aired a snippet of Markov’s interview with Sovietsky’s Genadi Boguslavsky and Pavel Lysenkov.
Markov, playing during the NHL lockout with Vityaz Chekhov of the Kontinental Hockey League, chatted in English with the two writers for the RDS item. Boguslavsky asked the 33-year-old rearguard what he thought of the comments of some KHL players that a few NHLers had considered remaining in the Russian league upon the lockout’s end.
“That’s a difficult question,” Markov replied. “I think every player in the NHL just wants a fair agreement. I can’t say right now if I’m staying or going back in the NHL, but I’ll see when the time comes and then I’m going to make a decision.”
Talk of Russian players sticking in the KHL post-lockout has been prevalent throughout the last 34 days.
Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov has already spouted off about the potential of some Russian players remaining in the KHL after the work stoppage ends.
Alex Ovechkin said he’d stay in the KHL if the NHL cut salaries.
Ilya Kovalchuk said he’d be “delighted” to play in the KHL all season. “I really don’t care, the main thing for me is hockey,” he told RIA Novosti.
Most recently, Henrik Zetterberg told MLive.com he knew “for a fact Russians will probably stay” in the KHL post-lockout.