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The Apprentice

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
MONTREAL – He may be in his first NHL season, but P.K. Subban certainly doesn’t play like a rookie.

Notching the 30th point of his inaugural NHL campaign, Subban became the first rookie Habs blue-liner to accomplish that feat since Chris Chelios, Tom Kurvers and Petr Svoboda in 1984-85. The only other Canadiens’ rearguards to hit the 30-point plateau in their first year in the league? Hall-of-Famers Jacques Laperriere and Guy Lapointe.

Check out Subban's 30th point of the year
“I have to give a lot of credit to the coach,” stressed Subban, who picked up his 23rd assist of the season on Andrei Kostitsyn’s second period marker. “When I came in this year, Jacques [Martin] made sure that I developed the way he wanted me to – not the way the media or fans or analysts thought I should develop. I remember in my meeting at the start of the year, he told me the way I was going to play would build a solid base for my career, not just for one or two years.
“I’ve learned so much in terms of what’s going to make me successful for a long time, not just a flash in the pan,” added Subban, “That’s playing solid defense, focusing on the little things and playing a team game. Looking back, in every game that’s been my focus. It’s nice to get that 30th point, but it would be 10 times better to have gotten those two points.”

Spoken like a true veteran. While his spin-o-ramas and end-to-end rushes may have punched his ticket to the All-Star skills competition this year, it’s his work in the defensive zone that’s helped Subban earn his 22-plus minutes of ice time per game in his debut season.

“I’ve always focused on defense, but I think maybe because I’ve always put up pretty good numbers offensively it’s overshadowed my defensive game,” reasoned the 21-year-old, who was second behind only Roman Hamrlik with 24:13 – including a team-high 3:23 shorthanded minutes – on Tuesday night. “That’s a credit to the coaches – they’ve given me every opportunity to show I can play solid defense and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

After All-Star defenseman Andrei Markov’s season ended just seven games into the campaign and blue-line pillar Josh Gorges underwent season-ending surgery in January – not to mention Jaroslav Spacek and Brent Sopel who are also currently sidelined with injuries – the young phenom had no choice but to step up his game in place of his mending teammates. 

“If those guys are in the lineup, maybe I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to achieve what I have so far, but if those guys were in the lineup, maybe our team would be at the top of the standings,” he countered. “I’ve had a great opportunity here and I’ve just tried to make the best of it. I’m doing my best every night and I’m still learning every day.”

Shauna Denis is a writer for

See also:
Postgame comments: Subban, Gomez, Wisniewski, Cammalleri
Highlights Habs-Caps
The Numbers Game - March 15, 2011
Price&Subban's "Triple Low 5"
Letter from Geoff Molson to Canadiens fans

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