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Subban donation resonates for Canadiens, Quebec

by Arpon Basu

BROSSARD, Quebec -- P.K. Subban made his boss proud.

Montreal Canadiens owner and president Geoff Molson said Thursday he was impressed by Subban's commitment of a $10 million donation to the Montreal Children's Hospital Foundation, and that it allowed many people to see a side of the star defenseman they might not have known before.

Molson was asked if Subban will be looked at differently now that he has added the position of philanthropist to his resume.

"As a hockey player, no. As a person, probably yes," Molson said Thursday at a press conference to announce a real estate project. "He spoke from the heart [Wednesday] and it was impressive. We learned a lot about P.K. [Wednesday]."

The Canadiens opened training camp with physicals and testing Thursday.

In light of general manager Marc Bergevin's announcement that the Canadiens will name a captain by the end of camp after going without one last season, Subban's announcement Wednesday became a part of that public debate, even if the donation had nothing to do with that.

Molson confirmed the decision of who will be the next captain will in no way be influenced by what Subban did Wednesday.

"I don't think it has anything to do with the selection of a captain," Molson said. "The process Marc has developed to select a captain is well underway and has been going on since the end of last season. That's really something that's in his hands right now."

Subban's gesture resonated across Quebec on Thursday.

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard and Health Minister Gaetan Barrette each publicly thanked Subban for his generosity at the National Assembly in Quebec City, and his Canadiens teammates were impressed as well.

"It's amazing," Canadiens defenseman Nathan Beaulieu said. "For a guy like that to take something that's his, his time, and do something like that is pretty special. It shows a lot about the person he is and the organization that taught him how to act as a pro and as a player. Just to give something back like that, it takes a special person to do that."

Subban said during his announcement he wanted to lead by example in making the commitment to the hospital. Beaulieu, 22, saw Subban's donation in the same light.

"What he did was a big statement," he said. "He set the bar high for all athletes, not only hockey players. For him to step up and donate not just money, but also his time, he's giving his label, his name to the hospital as well, so it's something special.

"He set the bar very high and we have big shoes to fill. It's a good guy to follow."

Fellow Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry was most impressed by Subban's comments about leaving a mark on society that has nothing to do with hockey.

"Obviously everyone wants to be remembered for having a great career, but there are things that are more important outside of hockey," Petry said.

Though Beaulieu may feel the sports world now has a higher bar to aim for when it comes to charitable contributions, Molson stressed players do things differently and every little bit counts.

"Everyone has their own way of doing things," Molson said. "Sometimes it's a big announcement like this one and sometimes it could be just a thing a player does with one person that makes a difference.

"I think all of our players have learned through our organization the importance of giving back to the community and it's part of our culture."

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