It's at the very bottom of the list of things an NHL player wants to go through in a contract year, but for the second time in seven months, Andrei Markov will undergo knee surgery.
The Montreal Canadiens defenceman needs to have his right anterior cruciate ligament rebuilt - the same one he tore during last season's playoffs on a hit from Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke. His 2010-11 season is done after appearing in just seven games.
The procedure will be performed Dec. 8 in Birmingham, Ala., by renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews - best known for his work on baseball pitchers, but who has expertise in second reconstructions.
Markov, who will be an unrestricted free agent next July, turns 32 in a couple of weeks, and has suffered four serious ligament injuries - to both his knees and his left foot - in the space of 20 months, the latest on Nov. 13 against Carolina.
Nonetheless, Canadiens general-manager Pierre Gauthier and Markov's agent, Don Meehan, were quick to dismiss concerns his career is in danger.
"We are very confident that Andrei will be able to fully recover from this injury," Gauthier said in a statement issued by the club.
Meehan told The Globe Markov expects "a full and complete recovery" and "he will be ready for next season."
If there's a silver lining for the Habs - Markov is considered the squad's best player by his peers - it's that the Russian will be placed on long-term injured reserve, giving the team manoeuvring room to acquire players before the trade deadline.
The provision allows the Habs, who are roughly $1-million under the salary cap, to exceed it by a pro-rated portion of the salary still due to Markov, who makes $5.75-million.
The consensus to opt for surgery was reached Friday afternoon after Gauthier met with Markov - team doctor David Mulder and Meehan were also present.