Andrei Markov is on the verge of hitting an incredible milestone should he come to terms with the Montreal Canadiens for the upcoming season. He is currently 10 games shy of playing 1000 games with the Habs, and would become the first to hit that milestone since Bob Gainey.
It would be an incredible accomplishment in this day and age of professional hockey, where players tend to change teams in pursuit of lucrative contracts, while teams have to juggle the restrictions of a salary cap.
If Markov were to hit the 1,000-game milestone, he would be only the sixth player in the franchise’s illustrious history to do so, and the first in 30 years.
The other players, with the year in which they reach the mark, are:
- Bob Gainey (1986-87)
- Larry Robinson (1985-86)
- Henri Richard (1970-71)
- Claude Provost (1969-70)
- Jean Beliveau (1969-70)
On the eve of his 1,000th game on January 5, 1987, Bob Gainey told La Presse “my style of play demands consistency, and the team expects that from me regardless of sickness or injury. Given that, I think the 1,000 game count speaks for itself.”
The Canadiens, being an organization that prides itself on its rich history, faces the possibility of this milestone turning into a lost opportunity to add to the team’s lore. On the other side, Markov likely looks forward to etching his name along a very exclusive group of the club’s most honoured players.
The sad part is that Markov would have already hit the milestone had he not been fallen by a series of serious injuries between 2009 and 2012, which caused him to miss a total of 181 games over the course of three seasons, and also had a chance to reach that mark last season had he been able to play at least 72 games.
Injuries have also caused other Canadiens greats to miss the 1,000-game milestone.
Maurice Richard suffered a severed Achilles tendon during the 1957-58 season, a broken ankle in 1958-59, and a broken cheekbone in 1959-60, his final season. He missed a total of 89 games those last three years as a result, ultimately leaving him at 978 games played.
Yvan Cournoyer was limited to only 15 games in his final season with the Canadiens in 1978-79 due to a chronic hip injury, halting him at 968 games, 32 shy of the mark.
Guy Lafleur was at 961 games played with the Canadiens when his relationship with former linemate and roommate Jacques Lemaire became so toxic that Lafleur decided to retire from professional hockey, only 19 games into the 1984-85 season. He would have easily played the additional 39 games required to make the 1,000 club, had the team been able to resolve the dispute.
On the current team Tomas Plekanec is also on the verge of this remarkable milestone, currently sitting at 921 games played. He will require practically the full 82-game season to hit the mark, which could be a challenge for the Czech forward given the sudden decline in his play over the last season.
If he gets signed for the new season, Markov would theoretically hit his milestone on October 26, 2017 against the Los Angeles Kings at the Bell Centre.