The P.K. Subban Canadiens’ Slave Chronicles And Saga End
As soon as he was called-up by the Montreal Canadiens in February 2010, P.K. Subban quickly skated into the hearts of [many] Montreal hockey fans. Even the wife of the late Canadiens Saint, Jean Beliveau, embraced the young hockey talent who apparently idolized her husband.
With each year of his development, honing his hockey skills, Subban only got better, and true hockey fans flocked to the BELL Centre to watch him perform and buy his “things.”
But while he was bringing energy and excitement to the rink every home game, his creativity and qualities on the ice were being suffocated by different coaches, particularly the current one, who seems to much prefer a bland mashed-potato-without-salt sort of hockey player. Problem is, P.K. Subban’s vivacious personality simply didn’t lend to that kind of system [and player].
So Subban went about the business of earning his money—a relative small contract in his early years as a professional, then a big $72 million long-term market value contract, commensurate with the going rate for top NHL defencemen.
And as he earned his money skating for the CH, the criticisms began; his race, [player] jealousy and discord in the dressing room and other stories began to emerge from people who were close to people with hockey connections—hypocrites and others…
“He [P.K.] was taking up too much oxygen in the (dressing) room,” That was the critical analysis of some sportscasters re. the CH Organization’s perspective; he had problems with his coach; he was too flamboyant; he doesn’t get along with his teammates; P.K. is different…”
Meanwhile, in addition to playing hockey P.K. was doing other normal things he… people also enjoy—including charitable and other admirable things… And sure, he was having fun, too. He’s a young 21st Century ambitious Canadian. Wonder if he were using his free time playing charity/celebrity golf tournaments toxic tongues would be wagging…]
Oh yes, something else that got some peoples goat was the Sub
ban persona, as described/stated in a local publication: “Philanthropist, entrepreneur and style icon, founder of P.K.S.S. Management, one of Montreal’s most followed athletes, with a reach of over two million people across his social media platforms, and P.K. Subban’s All-Star Comedy Gala (at this summer’s Just For Laughs Festival), P.K. Subban Foundation, Atrium P.K. Subban” at the Montreal Children’s Hospital…”
Apparently, all that was simply too much for the CH organization to stomach.
After all, the ambitious, young Black man was not a hockey slave. Contract obligations notwithstanding he was a free Black 21st Century, new-age hockey player (to borrow from Herb Carnegie’s book and CBC documentary) “Too Colourful For The League.” He was unshackled, couldn’t be contained.
All that became increasingly unpalatable for the CH organization. Subban’s expressed love for Montreal, “like playing in Montreal and adore the city” sentiment didn’t matter. From the organizational standpoint, his “brand” was overshadowing the CH’s; that was the objective assessment of one sports analyst. P.K. Subban had to go!
Subban was also tacitly fingered as the primary cause of the Canadiens historical collapse after the team’s rocket start last NHL season. The coach and GM figured he should’ve assumed more of a “leadership role,” whatever that means.
It doesn’t matter that the team ran into a string of serious injuries, most notably to their (and according to many the League’s) #1 goaltender, Carey Price. The organization figured P.K. should’ve stepped up and be the difference by helping some of the younger players, and maybe play more minutes, score more goals (for a team which has been in a scoring funk for several seasons), perhaps even replace Carey Price, if called upon…).
As the team struggled, essentially losing its way out of playoff position, someone that “stand-out” guy had to be fingered. Never mind the fact that the team had chosen a Captain early in the season. [Oh yes, P.K. Subban was pissed because he was overlooked for the title of Captain.] Then again, that insidious, malevolent constituency would never have taken well to a young Black guy from Toronto wearing the C, what de facto is a white player’s position.
The P.K. brand, (too) flamboyant (I never heard of an entertainer being “too flamboyant” (hockey, after all, is nothing more than business/entertainment), narcissistic, didn’t get along with [his] teammates; he didn’t get along with coach (clearly stated the coach, Michel Therrien, never liked P.K. Subban. Canadiens’ fans who watch French TV hockey games, say as an analyst Therrien was constantly criticizing Subban’s game. When he received a contract to again coach the team, everyone knew that ambivalent feelings would carry over in the dressing room and on the ice. I’ve seen some of those games—when Subban was benched.)
Someone recalled a comment made by one of the Canadiens disciples, Guy Lafleur. Once, as he was walking by the Canadiens dressing room, he looked inside and apparently saw Subban horsing around. To which Lafleur remarked, “[…] In my day we would’ve clipped his wings…” Or give him a high stick.
Les Canadiens’ bubbleheads can coat their reasons—ostensibly for public consumption—with as many coats and colours as they like; it was just a matter of scratching the surface for the truth (of all the issues that conspired to the P.K. decision and all-around organizational disingenuousness) to bear its ugly face.
Out of necessity, we [Black people] have become adept at deciphering white peoples’ ‘code’ words.
To borrow Bonnie Raitt’s Grammy Award winning song title, Something To Talk About, P.K. Subban’s shocking trade from the Montreal Canadiens to the Nashville Predators surely provided Montrealers (some say national newshounds) more than several days-full of stuff to talk about.
Talk of trading Subban had been percolating in the sports media since the end of the Canadiens disastrous 2015-16 season, and reached a crescendo the week leading up to the draft and trade deadline.
Said one well-known and versed hockey analyst, a veritable hockey Bible heard daily on local radio, in coming to Subban’s defense, “P.K. is P.K. His personality overwhelms them…and nothing is going to change him…He’s a top NHL defenceman…”
Many others expressed similar sentiments [of support].
So on Friday, June 24, Sainte Jean Baptiste Day, just days before P.K. Subban’s “No trade” contract clause kicked in, the conversation and rumour mill were churning, Montreal’s only Black player was the subject of the day and subsequent days. And emotions were palpable the afternoon of June 29 when news broke and quickly spread That Montreal Canadiens had indeed traded their star, and sole, Black player, to the Nashville Predators.
On that day, needless to say, and days later, most of the talk was not about the ‘politics of hockey and which team got the better of the deal.
“Good riddance…now he can keep his big mouth shut,” a white woman said. A male caller was succinct: Good riddance!” Too bad they couldn’t collect that $10,000 to turn P.K. Subban white.
Reiterate, P.K. is: “different, divisive, over-extending himself, is a magnet, is a cancer, a self-promoter, he stands out in the crowd, sucked most of the energy out of the dressing room. With P.K. and the other Black player, Smith-Pelly gone, there’s now ample energy for the ‘back-to-normal’ all-white team to excel by having a winning 2016-17 season. Stanley Cup?
The dangling [Black] rose has been plucked by the Nashville Predators. Here’s hoping that for the duration of his contract P.K. Subban will continue to bloom and excel each season, and that the Stanley Cup he coveted as a member of his beloved Montreal Canadiens, but with specious reasoning and excuses was denied, will become a reality with his new team and teammates.
“He’s exciting to watch,” the Predators G.M. said in a post-trade interview.
And as reality sunk in, P.K. Subban told the media via a conference call from Paris where he was vacationing, “Right now I’m going to a team that wants me… I just look to winning a Stanley Cup…and I feel I got a whole lot closer to doing that today…”
“I’m just happy to be in a situation where I can excel and feel good about myself coming to the rink every day.”
And from the netherworld, Herb Carnegie and others who were themselves “too colourful…” for the NHL, and denied opportunities—but smoothed the ice for the 21st Century young Black players—must be breaking a half-smile, or is it a smirk, in solidarity) as the ice fog from the P.K. Subban dispatch to Nashville continues to clear.