I would say it was common sense.
Michel Therrien left Andrei Markov on the third defensive pairing with Tom Gilbert during Brossard practice Wednesday and we can expect that’s the way it will be Thursday when the Canadiens face the LA Kings.
In four days Markov will turn 37. On the Canadiens, only P.K. Subban has logged more average ice time than Markov’s 22:54. Against the Sharks Tuesday night he looked burnt out. There has been concern for two years that the heavy work load would eventually cause him to hit the wall. Based on what we saw against San Jose, it appears high time to seriously reduce his workload at least for the time being.
On the subject Therrien simply said, “I didn’t like the Markov/Subban pairing so I decided to change it. That’s it.” Well, it probably wasn’t done quite that way. Be assured that, out of respect for a veteran, Therrien had a long conversation with Markov before making the change.
Markov said, “I’m not looking for excuses. I have to play better the same as the rest of the team.”
The Markov move was Therrien’s only radical move Wednesday. His forward lines remained substantially the same.
Max Pacioretty – Tomas Plekanec – Paul Byron
Lars Eller – Alex Galchenyuk -Sven Andrighetto
Tomas Fleischmann – David Desharnais – Dale Weise
Daniel Carr – Torrey Mitchell – Brian Flynn
Nathan Beaulieu – P.K. Subban
Alexei Emelin – Jeff Petry
Andrei Markov – Tom Gilbert
Under the circumstances, not even the most aggressive of the NHL general managers was going to take a chance on Zack Kassiaqn. Kassian cleared waivers at noon Wednesday and the Canadiens elected to send him to the St. John’s IceCaps where for his own sake, he successfully continues his rehabilitation from his substance abuse problem.
He’ll get some counseling support through the league and NHLPA programme, the rest will be up to him. Michel Therrien was clear about the uphill battle Kassian faces. “There are a lot of players ahead of him right now in the organization. He is not my priority.”