As part of the NHL's celebration of Black History Month, NHL.com will highlight great moments and important figures in black hockey history each day throughout February. Pioneers like Willie O'Ree, Angela James and Grant Fuhr will be featured.
Today we look at P.K. Subban, the first black player to win the Norris Trophy.
P.K. Subban wants to be defined as more than just a black hockey player. "I want to be defined as one of the best hockey players, or the best hockey player," he told ESPN in 2017. "Hopefully someone who can transcend the game."
Subban, who is from Toronto but grew up a Montreal Canadiens fan and wound up being drafted by and playing for his favorite team, took a giant step toward that goal in 2013, when he became the first black player to win the Norris Trophy, awarded to the NHL's best defenseman. "It is a great day for me and I am just happy to represent the organization" the then-24-year-old said. In August 2014, he signed an eight-year contract with the Canadiens; 13 months later, he donated $10 million to the Montreal Children's Hospital.
When Subban scored a double-overtime goal against the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of the 2014 Eastern Conference Second Round, he was the subject of thousands of racial comments via Twitter. Subban absolved the Bruins of any blame, saying, "The NHL's got tons of players from different backgrounds from different places around the world. That's what makes this league so special and that's what makes sports so special; it brings everybody together."
Subban's time in Montreal ended June 29, 2016, when he was traded to the Nashville Predators for defenseman Shea Weber. But his time as one of the NHL's best defensemen continues; after playing a key role in Nashville's first trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2017, Subban was a Norris finalist in 2018.