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P.K. Subban gets laughs for good cause

Predators defenseman pokes fun at Canadiens while raising money for Montreal hospital foundation

by Arpon Basu @ArponBasu / Senior Managing Editor

MONTREAL -- P.K. Subban's stand-up comedy debut left the sellout crowd at Salle Wilfrid Pelletier howling with laughter.

But more importantly, it put smiles on the faces of the children in Montreal who were the main beneficiaries.

P.K. Subban's All-Star Comedy Gala at the Just for Laughs Festival raised more than $130,000 for the Montreal Children's Hospital Foundation on Monday and displayed all the off-ice talents the Nashville Predators acquired when they traded Shea Weber to the Montreal Canadiens for him on June 29.

The money will go toward the seven-year, $10 million commitment Subban made to the hospital last September, one he will honor even though he now plays for Nashville.

Subban was the host of the evening, his first public appearance in Montreal since the trade, and he received a two-minute standing ovation from the capacity crowd of about 3,000.

He touched on the trade throughout the show and there were several jokes that were less than flattering to the Canadiens, but Subban made sure to end by thanking the team that traded him away, standing on stage next to Elise Beliveau, the widow of late Canadiens great Jean Beliveau.

"First of all, I have to give a huge thank you to the Montreal Canadiens organization," Subban said to begin his closing comments, just before the amount of money raised was revealed. "They drafted me in 2007 and my six years here have been amazing. Really, truly, they gave me every opportunity. Without them, I wouldn't be here to donate this money to the hospital.

"I know there were a lot of jokes tonight, a lot of fun, but ultimately a big thanks to the Montreal Canadiens organization and people like Madame Beliveau here who have really encouraged me to give back."

Subban had made it clear leading up to the gala that the show would not be critical of the Canadiens, but it did not take long for him to playfully poke fun at the awkwardness of the situation.

In his opening monologue, he said he spent his summer in Europe doing what "any good Canadian would do."

"I drank some good wine, visited some beautiful beaches … and got traded for Shea Weber," he said to big laughs.

He later said that in Nashville he would be "free to do as many triple low-fives as I want," referring to the victory celebration he and Canadiens goaltender Carey Price used to do before Montreal coach Michel Therrien put a stop to it.

Between the performances of each comedian, Subban would come out for shorter bits, one a video of him doing different jobs at the Children's Hospital. He played a doctor who diagrammed a 1-2-2 trap on a chest X-ray to show a patient how cholesterol was causing a blockage; a janitor who cross-checked anyone who walked on his freshly mopped floor; and a clinical drug test subject who took a pill and began hallucinating, with a picture of Therrien and Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin's head spinning toward him.

"That's not funny," he said in the video.

Subban later wore a cowboy hat and dedicated some country songs to NHL personalities, including one to his former Canadiens teammates who are "trying to bring the Cup back to Montreal playing Michel Therrien's system."

The song was "Good Luck with That" by Zach Paxson.

Subban tried to make up for the jabs when he thanked the Canadiens at the end, but he saved his final thanks for the fans who chanted his name throughout the performance and lined up by the hundreds after the show to get him to autograph the special Just for Laughs jerseys they bought, with proceeds from that sale also going to the Children's Hospital.

Tweet from @ArponBasu: Lineup waiting for Subban to sign special Just for Laughs jerseys they bought. Proceeds also go to the hospital

"You didn't think I would leave without saying goodbye, did you?" Subban said. "Thank you all so much for the incredible support you've shown me over the past six years. I love Montreal, and I always will. I'll always support this community in any way that I can, except on the ice, playing for Nashville and all.

"I just want to say 'Au revoir' (see you again) for now. I hope you all come to see me play my first game back in Montreal. And if you want to wear a Subban Predators jersey to the game, I won't be sad. Merci beaucoup, thank you and good night."

Subban then left the stage, blowing kisses to the fans.

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