BOSTON – While social media platforms have undoubtedly enhanced the playoff experience for hockey fans worldwide, sometimes users can take things one step too far.
In the aftermath of the Canadiens’ 4-3 double-overtime victory over the Bruins in Game 1 on Thursday night at TD Garden, that’s exactly what materialized in cyberspace. After lighting the lamp in the second overtime period to secure a Habs victory, defenseman P.K. Subban was the target of discriminatory comments aplenty from Bruins supporters who were disappointed in the final outcome of the series-opener.
It didn’t take the Bruins organization long to respond to the incident, with president Cam Neely denouncing the actions of those responsible in a brief statement on Friday that called the remarks both "racist" and "classless" in nature.
Shortly thereafter, the Canadiens had their opportunity to express their thoughts on the situation involving the reigning Norris Trophy winner.
“One thing is certain – nobody deserves to be treated that way. I’m extremely disappointed with the situation. It’s hard to accept a situation when comments like that are made about one of our players. P.K. has our full support here and we told him that. One way or another though, you never want to hear comments like that,” offered head coach Michel Therrien, who learned about what had transpired online after Game 1 shortly before meeting the media at the team hotel in downtown Boston on Friday afternoon.
“That has no place in our game. Nobody deserves that, regardless of the matchup being a rivalry or the fact that he’s a professional athlete,” added Therrien. “I’ll definitely meet with P.K. today and see how he’s feeling.”
Subban’s teammates shared similar sentiments after hearing that one of their own was being openly discriminated against online. To a man, however, Therrien’s troops insist the four-year NHL veteran boasts the inner-strength to overcome anything in his way – including a bevy of inappropriate comments that are racially motivated in nature.
“I think it does say a lot about him as a person, the fact that he’s just able to shake it off and go on with his life. It doesn’t really affect him too much and it shouldn’t. Their opinions really don’t matter. It’s a very small group of people. It doesn’t represent the fan base or the National Hockey League in any way. It’s just him understanding that it’s a very small group of people and their views,” mentioned Brendan Gallagher, who has been a teammate of Subban’s for the past two seasons in Montreal.
“P.K. is one of our teammates. You want to see him happy. You want to see him doing well. He had a very good game for us on Thursday, and obviously came through for us in the clutch,” continued Gallagher. “That motivates us to be a stronger team rather than comments from people that we quite frankly don’t really care about.”
Like Gallagher, Thomas Vanek believes that if anybody can turn the tables on a rather uncomfortable situation like this one, it’s P.K. Subban.
“He’ll be fine. He’s a good kid. I’ve gotten to know him over the last two months since I’ve been here, and I’ve been really impressed with him. Obviously, I knew just how good he was on the ice, but off the ice he’s a good teammate and he carries himself well. He’ll get even stronger through this,” offered Vanek. “He’s a good friend. He’s a game changer on the ice, and we need him to be that again.”
Based on the way Subban has been performing all season long, there’s no reason to believe that won’t be the case once again come Game 2 on Saturday afternoon in Beantown.
Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.
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