Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban was back in Montreal on Wednesday to mark one year since he announced his commitment to raise $10 million over seven years for the Montreal Children's Hospital.
He is right on schedule.
Subban said his foundation's fundraising initiatives over the past year have raised $1.4 million for the hospital and helped more than 9,000 families through his P.K.'s Helping Hand program, which provides financial support for families who may need to temporarily stop working in order to care for their sick children.
Subban was traded to the Predators by the Montreal Canadiens for defenseman Shea Weber on June 29, but Subban reiterated he has every intention of honoring the commitment he made to the hospital.
"For me this isn't just about how much money we raise, but more so how many lives we can touch," Subban said in his speech in the P.K. Subban Atrium, which was unveiled a week ago Wednesday. "Announcing this number is exciting, but what's even more rewarding is meeting and seeing the people who have been able to benefit from this.
"Getting those firsthand stories on how difficult it can be to balance work and time spent at a sick child's bedside, I really understand how a child's illness can change a family's life in an instant. I feel humbled by your courage and privileged to be able to help during what is probably one of the worst times in your lives.
"One year ago I told you that every time you see that sign on the wall behind me, you would know what I stand for. That is true now, and forever. My jersey might change, but what I support will always stay the same."
Video: P.K. Subban's commitment to the kids
With $1.4 million raised, Subban would be on pace to raise $9.8 million over seven years, just shy of his fundraising goal. Now, he will need to maintain that momentum while playing in a different city, something he said was an initial cause for concern.
"When I was traded I have to admit, I was a little bit scared, you know?" Subban said. "It was a weird situation, because how I felt and what I heard were two different things. I was scared just because I was like, 'What's going to happen? Are people and the city just going to still continue to help me?' "
Subban quickly got his answer and was pleasantly surprised by it.
"When I got traded, my bond with the community and people in the community only grew stronger," he said. "It was like everybody kind of rallied around me rather than ran away. It speaks volumes of the city of Montreal and the province of Quebec and the people here. Throughout the trade I think a lot of people forgot what this was all about. It's about the kids and the families and nothing else."
Though his fundraising commitment to the hospital is for six more years and despite the fact he won't be playing home games in Montreal anymore, Subban suggested his relationship with the Montreal Children's Hospital does not necessarily have an expiry date.
"I'm really happy with what I've seen over a year; I'm more excited to see what will happen over the next seven, nine, 10, 15 years," Subban said. "I believe we can continue to get more people involved. One person can do a lot, but with the amount of people we've seen come together, you've seen what we can do. I mean, 9,000 families, when I found out about that I was pretty emotional about it. I hope some people will be. That's a pretty special number. We're not in the business of numbers, but 9,000 families is a lot of people to help."
Subban touched on a number of other topics at his Montreal press conference:
On being a member of the Predators a year after he was in consideration to be captain of the Canadiens:
"That's life. If somebody would have asked me a year ago, 'P.K., do you think you'll be playing for the Nashville Predators in a year?' I probably would have said no. But that's just the way life goes. Things change and in our business, things happen. Obviously I thought I was going to be in Montreal for the remainder of my career, not just my contract, but it didn't happen that way so I'm forced and my family's forced to move forward with what we have and continue to fulfill commitments that I've made. And that's what I'm going to do."
Video: P.K. Subban introduced in Nashville
On being overlooked as an injury replacement for Team Canada for the World Cup of Hockey 2016:
"I've always been one to want to represent my country. I've done it on a few occasions and I've had tremendous success. I would love to do it again. I'm obviously disappointed not to be a part of it, but there's some things I can control, there's some things I can't, and that's one of them [that] I can't."
On whether he has something to prove with the Predators this season:
"I'm excited now to start the season because there's been a lot of talking during the summer, a lot of talk. I'm the type of person that likes to do more actions than talking, believe it or not. I'm looking forward to the season and just getting down there. It's a new chapter not just in my career, but in my life."
On if there is anyone he looks up to in the Predators organization:
"[Assistant coach] Phil Housley, I mean, a Hall of Fame defenseman, looking forward to playing for him. Really looking forward to playing for him. Aside from that you have [coach] Peter Laviolette, who was won a Stanley Cup, [general manager] David Poile, one of the most respected people in the National Hockey League who has been around a long time. So I'm looking forward to working with the management and staff. I'm looking forward to playing with some players who have had great careers so far, I mean, Roman Josi, Mike Fisher, Pekka Rinne, James Neal, Ryan Johansen, Filip Forsberg, some great players. I'm really confident about the situation I'm going into."
On if he plans on getting involved in the community in Nashville the way he has in Montreal:
"I think it should be a part of every player's plan. When you go into a new city, or any city that you play for, the community is a big part of every organization. NHL and professional sports teams rely on the community, so we want to be visible in the community in whatever capacity that is. I did have an opportunity to go down to Nashville and speak to management about different opportunities, but we'll revisit those after training camp or during training camp. And it's not just for me, it's for the whole team, of how we're going to be involved in the community."