MONTREAL – It might’ve taken a little bit longer than expected, but P.K. Subban will be calling La Belle Province his hockey home through at least the 2021-22 NHL campaign.
On Saturday, general manager Marc Bergevin announced that the Canadiens had agreed to terms on an eight-year contract extension with the 25-year-old rearguard that will keep him in bleu-blanc-rouge for the foreseeable future.
“My family and I are extremely happy to know that my future is going to continue with the Montreal Canadiens. That’s all I’ve ever wanted, and that’s exactly what happened. It hasn’t really settled in yet,” offered Subban, who spoke to members of the media via a conference call on Saturday evening. “During this process, I know a lot of different things have been said, but it’s been a healthy and respectful process. It’s been about making a deal that’s comfortable for myself and comfortable for the Montreal Canadiens. We accomplished that.
“I’ve had a great relationship working with Geoff Molson and Marc Bergevin through this process,” added Subban. “It’s been very respectful. Committing to me this way says a lot. I’m just happy to know that I’m going to be playing under Geoff Molson and Marc for the next eight years.”
With a salary arbitration ruling looming after the two sides convened for a hearing on Friday afternoon in Toronto, Subban was adamant that he always believed that an agreement would be reached, even if it didn’t appear that way publicly just over 24 hours earlier following a closed-door session down the 401.
“This whole process has been an educational one for me. I’ve never been through a process like this before. I have to give total credit to Marc and his group that worked so closely to put this deal together. It’s not easy to negotiate an eight-year deal like this, and ultimately it was what both sides wanted,” explained the four-year NHL veteran, who registered a career-high 43 assists and 53 points in 82 regular season games in 2013-14, before pacing the Canadiens with 14 points in 17 postseason tilts en route to a berth in the Eastern Conference Finals. “Going through the arbitration hearing is a part of the process. It’s a part of learning. It’s a part of the game, and it’s a part of the CBA. We followed every step in terms of the process. I’ve always felt strongly about being a Montreal Canadien, and I never thought I’d end up anywhere else. I’m happy that this deal is in place. Now, I can focus on winning a Stanley Cup and trying to help my team win hockey games.
“If I could’ve done a 20-year contract with Montreal, I would’ve,” continued Subban, who boasts 42 goals and 167 points in 284 career regular season games in a Canadiens uniform. “I think I’ve been consistent in saying that Montreal is where I want to play and where I want to be. I love everything about Montreal. My focus was on being here on a long-term basis from the start.”
Focused squarely on helping Michel Therrien’s troops take another all-important step next season, the 2012-13 Norris Trophy winner insists inking a lucrative long-term deal shouldn’t change the way he’s perceived or alter his status in any way going forward.
“I don’t want anything to change. I don’t want how my coach looks at me to change. I don’t want how my teammates look at me to change. I will always remain the same player and the same guy. I want to win. I think the way I carry myself both on and off the ice is as a winner. Regardless of what I’m being paid, I expect my teammates to treat me with respect and I expect to treat them with respect. I expect my coach to treat me with respect and I expect to treat my coach with respect,” stressed Subban, who became the first Canadien to be named the league’s top defenseman since Chris Chelios accomplished the feat back in 1988-89. “Financials are financials, but when it comes to winning, there’s a formula for that. What you’re making doesn’t fall into that formula. Nothing has changed for me. I’m going to help my team win in my role, whatever that role is.”
Given Subban’s already extensive resume, that role might include some additional leadership responsibilities come October. Whether or not that involves sporting a letter on his jersey, the Canadiens’ No. 76 plans on bringing his trademark enthusiasm to the rink game in and game out, while leading the only way he knows how.
“I’ve always been the type of guy who wants to lead by example on the ice. A lot of players can talk in the room, but only a few can lead by example on the ice by performing at a high level. It would be very flattering to be considered for a “C” or an “A”, but we have a lot of potential leaders in our dressing room,” confided Subban. “Whether or not I have a “C” or an “A” on my jersey, I fully intend on performing on the ice and bringing the best out in my teammates.”
Content to put contract talks and negotiations in the rear-view mirror for a long, long time, Subban couldn’t be more excited to see what the future has in store.
“It’s a strong commitment. It’s not about the numbers or the term. When you talk about the Canadiens committing to me on a long-term basis, it sends a strong message to me that they want me here and they appreciate everything I’ve done to this point. They believe in me as a player,” affirmed Subban.
It’s safe to say all of Habs Nation feels exactly the same way.
Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.
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