Montreal Canadiens defenceman Andrei Markov has been cleared for contact after a long struggle rehabilitating his right knee and expects to rejoin the lineup soon.
The 33-year-old hasn't played in a game since November, 2010.
"I need a little bit more time to practice with the team and as soon I feel I am ready to go, I'm going to play," Markov said Monday. "It's a big difference if you practice with the team and if you practice by yourself. You have to adjust to the speed of the guys. I need a little bit more time to adjust that but I think I'll be OK."
Markov first injured his right knee April 30, 2010 and needed surgery to repair the anterior cruciate ligament.
He injured the knee again Nov. 13, 2010 after colliding with Eric Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes and had more surgery three weeks later.
Markov seemed close to returning to the Canadiens this past November after 11 months of rehabilitation but had a setback, resulting in the latest procedure, arthroscopic surgery on Dec. 5, 2011, to remove debris in the knee.