OTTAWA -- It's been nearly 10 months since P.K. Subban suited up for the Montreal Canadiens. With the lockout and his recent contract dispute behind him, the outspoken defenseman is aching to rejoin his team.
"I missed everything," Subban said. "I missed the game, I missed my teammates. This is hockey, this is what I've grown up doing my whole life and I look forward to getting back into the mix."
Subban signed a two-year, $5.75 million contract Monday night. He took his first skate with the club during an optional practice Wednesday morning in Ottawa, and was met by a swarm of media as he spoke for the first time since his new contract was inked.
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"I've only seen a couple of my teammates," Subban said. "I think [I did it] purposely, I didn't want to get too involved while they're in a back-to-back situation. We spoke earlier at breakfast, but I'm going to wait until after the game. We'll have a couple of days off, and between that and practice we'll have lots of time to get together."
The defenseman is unsure when he will return to the lineup, but is content to keep getting prepared in the meantime.
"I felt great today," Subban said. "I'm going to continue to practice and get ready. But as of right now, there's no timeframe as to when I'll be returning. It's not my decision. I'm going to take every day slowly so I can continue to get myself into game shape as quickly as possible.
"I spoke with [general manager] Marc Bergevin and [coach] Michel Therrien. Things are very positive. They're making this transition very easy for me, and that's important. Especially when you're away from the team and you miss training camp, then the first couple of games. Our team is doing extremely well right now, so it's a motivation for me to come back and want to be a part of things. "
Subban knows that much of the discussion in Montreal has swirled around his contract issues, but he insisted that it's time to leave that in past and move forward with the Canadiens' season.
"When you come back into the dressing room, it's a team concept," Subban said. "It's about everybody; not about one individual. I think we've done a great job so far this season. You look at this team compared to last year, it's completely different. I'm just trying to come in and contribute in any way I can.
"[I didn't] take things personally [during the dispute]. Both sides continued to be professional, and I think I was surprised [at how well it went]. This was my first negotiation and there were no hard feelings on either side. It came down to agreement. The quicker we can put this stuff behind us, the better it's going to be for our hockey club. It's not about me anymore. It's about our team."
Subban trained during his time away from the team, but it wasn't the same as being on the ice during an NHL game.
"I felt great today. I'm going to continue to practice and get ready. But as of right now, there's no timeframe as to when I'll be returning. It's not my decision. I'm going to take every day slowly so I can continue to get myself into game shape as quickly as possible."
-- P.K. Subban
"It's that edge and getting back into the game," he said. "It doesn't matter how hard you skate, you have to feel the bumps and bangs. That takes time. But I think I've continued to try and prepare myself the best I can. I'm really looking forward to that first game."
The blueliner realizes that his absence has been an issue, but is grateful for all support received by fans and teammates. As for the rumours that some are not happy to see him back, Subban shrugged off the idea.
"I'm very appreciative of the [Montreal] fans," he said. "They've continued to support me, and I think that's why my position hasn't changed – the way I feel about the city, the organization and my teammates. I don't listen to rumours; I don't think anyone in the dressing room or organization does. We leave that stuff on the outside, and all that matters is what's in the room. We have such great chemistry coming out of the gate. We want to continue that.
"When it's time for me to play, I'll play -- whenever the team needs me. As soon as that happens, I'll be ready to go."