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A first for P.K.

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

MONTREAL – It’s hard to believe P.K. Subban hasn’t played in the NHL All-Star Game as of yet.

The 26-year-old defenseman has accomplished so much since debuting with the Canadiens back in 2009-10 without making an appearance in the mid-season showcase for real. That will all change in three weeks’ time when the 2013 Norris Trophy winner heads to Bridgestone Arena in Nashville to ply his trade alongside 43 other top players in the game today.

Subban, who was named to the Atlantic Division’s 11-man squad by the League’s Hockey Operations Department on Wednesday afternoon, will be one of three defenseman on Gerard Gallant’s contingent during the newly minted 3-on-3 tournament pitting all four divisions against one another. He’ll be joined by fellow rearguards Aaron Ekblad and Erik Karlsson, forwards Patrice Bergeron, Jaromir Jagr, Leo Komarov, Dylan Larkin, Ryan O’Reilly and Steven Stamkos, and goaltenders Roberto Luongo and Ben Bishop.

The Canadiens’ No. 76 made an appearance at the 2011 NHL All-Star Game in Raleigh, NC when he was named as a rookie replacement. His participation was limited to the Skills Competition, though, making the upcoming trek to Tennessee all the more special.

Nevertheless, Subban wishes some of his teammates were traveling along with him.

“Obviously, I think that it’s a huge honour. I think easily on our team this year there could be a few guys that represent us at the All-Star Game. I wish I was going with a couple of other guys, but I’ll just try to do my best to represent this organization just like any other player would in here,” offered Subban, who shared his thoughts on the All-Star nod following the Canadiens’ 2-1 win over the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night. “That’s just to go there and enjoy the moment, enjoy it with your family and friends. We know how tough it is to be at the All-Star Game. I’m just going to enjoy this experience.”

Subban’s incredible skating ability, speed and creativity will surely be an important asset to the Atlantic Division in their quest to come out on top in the winner-take-all competition, especially with so much open ice to work with. Having seen 3-on-3 play first-hand just three times during the 2015-16 campaign, the Toronto native admits he still has to familiarize himself a little bit more with the format as the contest approaches on Jan. 31.

“I’m not too sure about [the new 3-on-3 tournament]. I haven’t really read into it too much. I just know it’s going to be 3-on-3,” shared Subban, who is the Canadiens’ leading point-getter on the back end with 28 points in 42 games – in addition to being their most utilized player so far this year. “I’m sure everybody here will bring me up to speed on exactly what’s going to happen at the All-Star Game.”

Back in 2010, Subban was named a starter for the Canadian AHL All-Star Team while donning the colours of the Hamilton Bulldogs. After electrifying the crowd at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland, ME with a highlight-reel shootout goal on Houston’s Anton Khudobin during the Skills Competition, Subban went right back to work the next day, scoring the All-Star Game shootout winner in a 10-9 come-from-behind win over PlanetUSA.

“That’s like six or seven years ago, you know. Time flies,” cracked Subban, who clearly has fond memories of the experience. “I always try to just enjoy myself and have fun there. I think sometimes we forget that it’s sports entertainment. This is the type of event that’s for the fans. The reality of me going to the game isn’t just really about me; it’s about how well our team has played this season. That’s given me the opportunity to be selected to be on this team.”

The question now is whether or not Subban will have some tricks up his sleeve for the Skills Competition on Jan. 30. He isn’t giving away too much information right now, but don’t be surprised if he manages to bring fans to their collective feet at some point during the evening. Who can forget his move to sport Carolina Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner’s jersey during the shootout portion of the event five years ago?

“I don’t know about that,” mentioned Subban with a smile. “I’ll just try to go there and enjoy it. We’ll see what happens. Mostly, I’m just trying to have fun, enjoy the moment and enjoy the experience.”

Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.

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