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Canadiens' Subban grateful for chance to go to Sochi

Tuesday, 01.07.2014 / 4:20 PM

By Sean Farrell - NHL.com Correspondent / Road to Sochi blog

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Road to Sochi blog
Canadiens' Subban grateful for chance to go to Sochi

BROSSARD, Que. -- For months, P.K. Subban has been the subject of much discussion and debate by Canadian hockey pundits and fans about whether he would be invited to take part in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

On Tuesday, the Montreal Canadiens defenseman got the call he and his boosters were hoping for.

Subban was named to Canada's Olympic team along with Montreal teammate Carey Price, bolstering to eight the number of Canadiens who will represent their respective countries in Sochi.

Montreal defensemen Andrei Markov and Alexei Emelin were named Tuesday to represent Russia, which will host its first Olympic Winter Games. Canadiens backup goalie Peter Budaj was named to Slovakia's Olympic team.

Subban, the 2012-13 Norris Trophy winner, was among eight defensemen named to the Canadian squad, which was announced at a press conference in Toronto.

"I'm just grateful to have the opportunity to be able to play with the best players in the world and play against them and learn from them," said Subban, who received a phone call from Kevin Lowe as he made his way to the team's suburban practice facility Tuesday. "So I'm very happy about this opportunity and very grateful to be in this position right now moving forward."

The 24-year-old Toronto native has seven goals and 33 points in 44 games with the Canadiens this season. Subban has 39 goals and 147 points in 246 regular season games in just over four seasons with Montreal, including 38 points in 42 games last season.

"Obviously he's one of the elite defensemen in this League," Price said. "He's a really good friend of mine and I'm really happy that he'll be able to share this experience with me."

Despite his status as the NHL's reigning Norris Trophy winner, Subban's spot on Canada's Olympic squad was a frequent hot stove topic throughout the first half of the season.

At issue for some was the level of defensive risk attached to the offensively-talented Subban's game.

"He made some progress over the last two years," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said. "The teaching that we tried to do with him is to make sure that he's a good all-around player. He's putting effort and credit goes to him. We work closely with our players and it's fun to see the result when you get rewarded like that."

Subban does not expect his Olympic selection will silence his detractors.

"I hope not because they're the people that make me better, so I hope they keep critiquing and finding things to talk about," Subban said.

Price, a native of Anahim Lake, British Columbia, was one of three Canadian goalies named along with 2010 gold medalist Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks and Mike Smith of the Phoenix Coyotes.

"I felt like I did what I could to earn a spot on the team, and I think they felt the same way," said Price, who was in the Canadiens' therapy room when he got word, also via a phone call from Lowe.

The 26-year-old Price has a 20-11-4 record in 35 games this season, his seventh in the League, with two shutouts, a 2.22 goals-against-average and a .928 save percentage. He has a 165-128-43 career regular season record with 21 shutouts, a 2.53 GAA, and .916 save percentage.

"The way that that young man played this year, and the focus, and he brought his game to another level, so he's matured, he's confident, he turned out to be a real pro, so I'm extremely happy for him," Therrien said.

Both Subban and Price will make their Olympic debuts.

"I hope I get to room with him so that I can snore and keep him up all night," Subban said.

Markov will take part in his third straight Olympics for Russia. The 35-year-old native of Voskresenk has three goals and 22 points in 44 games with the Canadiens this season.

Emelin, 26, will make his first Olympic appearance.

"The people who worked there in Sochi, they did a great job to build everything from scratch and for the Russian people it's a huge honor to have the Olympic Games there," Markov said. "And it's going to be a big celebration for the whole country and everybody hopes for the good result."

On Monday, Montreal center Tomas Plekanec was named captain of the Czech Republic's Olympic team, and defenseman Raphael Diaz was chosen to represent Switzerland. Left wing Max Pacioretty of the United States will also compete in Sochi.

"It's a pretty cool experience to be able to see so many of your teammates earn that sense of pride, and having the opportunity to play for their country is pretty cool," Price said.

2014 OLYMPICS POLL