Stu Cowan: Predators still look like winners in the P.K. Subban trade
|Montreal Gazette 05 Jan 2019 at 20:30|
If anything, his personality and brand â€” along with his fancy hats â€” have only gotten bigger since the Canadiens traded him to the Nashville Predators in exchange for Shea Weber in the summer of 2016.
Subbanâ€™s now on the cover of the NHL 19 video game in his goal-celebration pose, has his own production company â€”Â PeeK Productions â€” and will host a one-hour variety program on NBCSN that will air on Jan. 25 after the NHL All-Star Skills competition.Â NBC Sports will also produce an original digital series titled The PK ProjectÂ that will stream across NBCSports.com, the NBC Sports app, YouTube and other NBC Sports social platforms.
â€śP.K. is one of the leagueâ€™s most entertaining players, and he was a great addition to our Stanley Cup Final coverage last year, where his charisma and personality were on full display,â€ť Sam Flood, executive producer and president of production for NBC Sports, said in a news release. â€śP.K. is more than a hockey player, heâ€™s a cultural explorer whose interests cross over into business, entertainment and philanthropy. We look forward to creating some memorable content with P.K.â€ť
Another thing that wonâ€™t change is the reaction Subban gets from hockey fans, who seem to either love him or hate him â€” with no in-between. That was on display again Saturday night when the at the Bell Centre and Subban picked up two assists in only his third game in Montreal since the trade. Subban received a loud cheer from fans before the game when he was announced as part of the Predatorsâ€™ starting lineup, but there were boos the first time he touched the puck and they got louder as the game went on.
â€śThatâ€™s what they should do â€¦ they should boo the other team when they have the puck,â€ť Subban said after the game. â€śThatâ€™s just the way it is. Itâ€™s something that Iâ€™ve been pretty used to in my career. But I got a lot of respect for the fan base here and the organization. Itâ€™s a great place to play and for a lot of these young players theyâ€™re going to enjoy their time here while theyâ€™re here â€” and they got a good team.â€ť
There is one major change in Subbanâ€™s life since he left Montreal.
â€śWell, I have a girlfriend now ( American ski star Lindsey Vonn ),â€ť he said before the game. â€śThatâ€™s probably the biggest change. Other than that, I just continue to do my thing and continue to be myself and bring energy to the rink every day and want to learn. Those things havenâ€™t changed, but my age has. Iâ€™m 29 now â€¦ Iâ€™m going to be 30 in May. So Iâ€™m excited just to continue to get better every year and enjoy my time in the National Hockey League.â€ť
Subban missed 19 games this season with an upper-body injury and has 3-12-15 totals and a plus-7 in 24 games.
â€śThereâ€™s big pros to dating someone who has a professional sports career as well,â€ť Subban said. â€śEspecially going through the injuries that Iâ€™ve had this year. Sheâ€™s gone through a ton, so definitely being able to talk to her about that and how sheâ€™s handled it has definitely helped.â€ť
Subban has definitely helped the Predators, who advanced to the Stanley Cup final during his first season in Nashville and won the Presidentâ€™s Trophy as regular-season champions last season before losing to the Winnipeg Jets in the Western Conference semifinals. Subban was also a finalist for the Norris Trophy last season as the NHLâ€™s best defenceman.
Whether you love Subban or not, the Predators certainly look like winners in the trade, especially when you add in the fact Subban is four years younger than Weber. That doesnâ€™t mean Weber hasnâ€™t played great with the Canadiens when healthy and he has come exactly as advertised with the quiet personality owner Geoff Molson and GM Marc Bergevin wanted.
Subbanâ€™s big personality was perceived to be a big problem in the Canadiensâ€™ locker room, but the â€śattitudeâ€ť â€” Bergevinâ€™s word â€” in the room got worse after he left, leading to last seasonâ€™s disaster. In hindsight, maybe Bergevin traded away the wrong guy at the time.
Bergevinâ€™s second attitude adjustment to the locker room seems to have worked with his off-season moves last summer and Weber now wears the â€śCâ€ť and is the undisputed leader. The future is looking brighter for the Canadiens, but theÂ present remains very bright for the Predators, who are one of the elite teams in the NHL.
â€śItâ€™s been what, three years now,â€ť Subban said about the trade. â€śSo for me Iâ€™m very comfortable with where Iâ€™m at and weâ€™re excited. I think just Montreal is an exciting place to come back because itâ€™s a Canadian city and so much history here. Itâ€™s special for everyone, not just me.â€ť
P.K. Subban remains a special player â€” whether you love him or hate him.