MONTREAL — There’s no doubt now, the Montreal Canadiens' Andrei Markov is a real Canadian after getting his citizenship Friday.
The 31-year-old defenceman, accompanied by his Habs bosses, Pierre Boivin and Pierre Gauthier, took his oath of citizenship at an immigration office in downtown Montreal.
“I’ve been in the country for 10 years. Becoming a Canadian was simply the next logical step,” Markov said.
Born in 1978 in Voskresensk, USSR, Markov doesn’t plan to renounce his Russian citizenship. He said he just wants to “make Canada my second home.”
The newly minted Canadian was soon being questioned by journalists about his plans to improve his French, one of the country’s two official languages. Markov responded by joking that he “should first start to speak English correctly.”
As for his participation in international hockey, the Habs No. 79 said he would “never wear the colours of the Canadian team,” proof of his continuing loyalty to his native country.
In any case, Markov wouldn’t be able to play for Canada at an international competition. International Ice Hockey Federation rules stipulate that a player cannot change teams after representing his country in a competition.
Since Montreal remains a hockey town even in the scorching July heat, Markov was asked about his right knee, which was injured in the second round of playoffs against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“My rehabilitation is going well, but I still can’t get back on the ice right now,” he said. “It’s an injury that takes time to heal.”
Markov tore his anterior cruciate ligament and required surgery in May. Doctors initially said he would need six months of rest, but it’s too early to know if he’ll be ready at the start of the NHL season.
Asked about the Canadiens captaincy, Markov, who was one of three alternates last season, said: “It would be big honour for me, but the decision is up to the team’s management.”
Habs coach Jacques Martin said Friday at his annual golf tournament on in Rockland, Ont., that he planned on naming an official captain for the coming season.