MONTREAL – Adored by many while often criticized at the same time, people aren’t indifferent about P.K. Subban.
If the star defenseman was among the Top 10 newsmakers in Quebec in 2015*, it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see him move inside the Top 5 this year. With a substantial pledge to the Montreal Children’s Hospital, his role as the Canadiens’ assistant captain, his noticeable presence at the NHL All-Star Game, his injury and the trade rumors involving the Toronto native that made headlines around the hockey world, Subban was definitely a topic of conversation during the 2015 campaign. By his own admission, however, sometimes that happened a little too often.
“I love the job that I do. l I’m very lucky to do what I do for a living, so I enjoy every moment of it. Sometimes, I wish that more of the attention could be on our team, though,” admitted Subban during the Canadiens’ end-of-season media availability session on April 11 at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard.
“Sometimes, I smile and people tell me to wipe that stupid smile off my face because they don’t like it,” continued Subban, when questioned about his larger-than-life personality. “That doesn’t mean I can’t keep smiling. People aren’t always going to like everything about you. It’s just the way we live. Everybody here is different.”
Despite missing the final 14 games of the season, on the ice Subban still managed to accomplish something that hadn’t been done for more than three decades in Montreal.
By picking up an assist on Lars Eller’s third-period tally on March 3 against the Los Angeles Kings, Subban reached the 50-point mark for a third consecutive season. The last player who managed to do it? Larry Robinson.
After seasons of 38 points (in 42 games), 53 points, 60 points and 51 points, there’s no doubting Subban’s offensive prowess and the stability he brings to the Canadiens’ blue line.
“I have a lot of self-confidence. I have confidence in my abilities to play at a high level. That’s what my confidence is based on, what I’ve accomplished in this league and for my team and what we accomplish as a team,” admitted Subban, who claimed the Norris Trophy in 2013 and was a finalist for the award in 2015, too. “As long as in this dressing room guys continue to support me and feel that I do everything to help this team win, I’m a happy guy. When I play with my teammates and they support me, that’s all that matters.”
Subban enjoyed that support all season long. Sometimes, however, journalists, radio and television hosts and panelists filled publications and the airwaves alike with stories that the Canadiens’ No. 76 and his teammates weren’t all that tight after all. Often times, it seemed like a bit of a soap opera. Two weeks ago, though, Subban made it clear that wasn’t the case.
“When things aren’t going great, there’s a lot of speculation. That’s just the way it is,” explained Subban. “There are guys who have bigger personalities and guys who are more stoic. You just have to make sure that everybody is on the same page. The good teams in professional sports find ways to get along. I feel that in our dressing room we have a very, very tight group.”
To say that Subban probably was talked about more than a political party leader during an election campaign or a controversial finale on La Voix wouldn’t necessarily be an understatement. His most recent campaign could easily have served as inspiration for another season of Lance et Compte.
“I believe in this business that you have to have thick skin and I believe I have it,” insisted Subban. “There’s never a dull moment [in Montreal]. Every day, there’s a story. It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not, there’s something to talk about. That’s Montreal. That’s what makes the market an exciting place to play. Nobody complains when the stories are good about our team, but you also have to realize there are going to be times when the stories aren’t great. That’s just the way it goes. That’s life.”
While some of those stories have Subban being shipped off to different teams throughout North America, he’s planning on staying in Quebec for a long time.
“I think I’ve been pretty clear about how I feel about this city and the organization. That will never change, regardless of the situation the team is in. I’ll always be attached to this city. I’ll always want to play here,” said Subban, who signed an eight-year contract extension in the summer of 2014. “There’s not a day that has ever gone by that I regret putting on this jersey. I love everything about this city.
“I feel that I can be a part of helping the team win. As long as the organization believes that, I’ll be here,” added Subban, a second-round pick of the Canadiens in 2007. “I’ve remained adamant on bringing the Stanley Cup back here since the day I was drafted. That’s my focus every year, nothing else.”
Vincent Régis is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Matt Cudzinowski.
*État de la nouvelle Bilan 2015, Québec, Influence Communication.
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