According to CJAD, Markov took to Brossard ice on skates earlier today. This isn't some unfounded rumour, but straight from the horse's (well in this case Cunneyworth's) mouth.
Well, I guess he won't be playing tonight then. But when if at all will he play this season? Here's a little timeline from the last attempted return:
Day 0: Markov returns to skate on his own
Day 7: Markov returns to practice with the team
Day 14: Markov cleared for contact
Day 21: Markov travels with team to Anaheim
Day 22: Markov opts out of Anaheim game
Day 23: Markov heads to LA for further tests on his knee
Day 25: Markov undergoes further knee surgery (with 4-6 week prognosis for recovery.
6 weeks on from Dec 3rd was some time in mid-January. Sitting here on the last day of January, we can surmise that either Markov's knee needed more recovery because it wasn't healing well. Or, much more likely, that he and the team took a more conservative schedule for return this time around.
Last time from first hint of skating to game readiness was about three weeks. 22 days from today would slate Markov for a return against the Stars at home on February 21st with a potential 21 games left in the season.
But let's not ignore the evidence. if the approach is more conservative, I think the timings for each landmark in recovery will be more sparsely spaced this time. Keep an eye on when milestones come up, but let's set early March as the time in our minds. That's my feeling on this.
Should he return at all?
For me this question is a non-starter.
If he is healed properly and as he's followed all precautions this time, his chance of injury this season should be sufficiently low. Certainly, if he is cleared by his own specialist doctors, I would feel comfortable that any increased chance of injury in a game this year is barely detectable versus any future year.
From a team standpoint, the possibility is that by March there will be little to play for but losses. And the thinking goes that keeping Markov out would put him in full fitness for a return to a fully fit and (no doubt we'll build to this summer crescendo again) contending team next fall. But let's not kid ourselves. Injuries can happen any time (remember Markov in August?) and saving something for the future like this is seldom more than blind optimism. Markov would benefit from playing within this 18 month period of his lay off, even if it only reminds him of his passion for the game. That alone will be of enough value to the Canadiens to justify a return to a non-playoff team.