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Subban set to do whatever it takes

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

SOCHI -- P.K. Subban might be the next Drew Doughty for the Canadian Olympic team. The Montreal Canadiens star defenseman also might just be a seventh or eighth defensemen for the duration of the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Last season's Norris Trophy winner won't mind either way.

Subban, arguably the most polarizing and debated player on the Canadian roster, appears to be coming into his first Olympic tournament with no ego of which to speak. He is filled by the long-anticipated feeling of excitement to be here and the tantalizing idea of how he might be able to contribute to a gold-medal performance, but he said he has no expectations for what his role might be and no demands on what it should be.

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"Obviously I feel I deserve to be here, but the attitude you come in here with is so important," Subban said after practice Tuesday. "I'd rather be overexcited about being here rather than be analyzing everything, thinking this is what I deserve, this is how I should be used. It's different than with your club team. You might not play the first game and then might end up playing the most minutes by the end of the tournament. You don't know what can happen. You just gotta go there, have fun, enjoy the experience. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We don't know the future with ice hockey in the Winter Olympics with all the NHL players, so enjoy the experience.

"I know I won the Norris Trophy. Everybody knows that, but at the end of the day it's not about what you think, it's about how you're being used and accepting that role."

For now it appears Subban's role will be either as Canada's seventh defenseman and power-play specialist, or as a healthy scratch. He has been on Canada's fourth defense pairing with Dan Hamhuis and the decision for coach Mike Babcock comes down to if he wants an extra guy for his penalty kill or someone like Subban, who is obviously an offensive juggernaut but at times can be a defensive liability.

If it's the latter and Subban is pegged as a guy who can help Canada's power play by playing in the neighborhood of eight to 10 minutes per game (he plays 25 minutes per game with the Canadiens), he'll take it because it's a start, an opportunity to earn so much more.

Remember, four years ago Drew Doughty was pegged as an extra defenseman and a guy who might be able to help the Canadians move the puck and have success on the power play. By the end of the tournament Doughty was paired with Duncan Keith and was one of the defensemen Babcock came to rely on most.

"Hey, it's a role and it's important," Subban said. "Just talking about a specialist, if you happen to be a power-play specialist, you look at Major League Baseball and the closer. Having a guy that comes in is just as important as anybody else. It doesn't matter what your role is. You gotta accept it, have fun, enjoy it."

Just then Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo walked past Subban. Luongo, of course, was the backup to Martin Brodeur when the tournament started four years ago, but he became the No. 1 after a 5-3 loss to the United States and helped Canada go on to win the gold medal.

"Roberto Luongo will tell you that, just enjoy it," Subban said. "The Olympics don't come every year and you don't know what can happen over the next four years."

Subban is definitely enjoying the experience so far.

"It's world-class players here, man," he said. "I just like the fact that after practice I can be doing keep-aways with Jonathan Toews, Sidney Crosby. I'm hoping by the end of this tournament that when I play keep-away back in Montreal I better be the best player out there."

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