“It doesn’t matter how many times I step on the ice at the Bell Centre, I have the same feeling every time: my head’s ready to explode, I want to kill somebody cutting across the blue line and I want to score the goal and celebrate. And I’ll do it by any means possible to win a hockey game. That’s how I feel playing there. I’m not sure I’d have that feeling anywhere else.”
This is how P.K. Subban described playing in Montreal in an interview with Dave Stubbs from The Gazette. It’s magical, seeing him dressed in the red, white and blue of the Montreal Canadiens. The way he moves the puck, the way he swiftly avoids players as if they weren’t there. He’s electrifying. One of the greatest prospects for the years to come.
But that’s all Subban is for now – a prospect. A great one, at that, one the Montreal Canadiens should strive to keep. Nevertheless, he still has a lot to prove. Therefore, signing a two-year, $5.75 million contract on Monday was definitely the right move for Subban.
But he had us on the edge of our seats for quite a while. For months, Subban and his agent struggled to agree to terms with Marc Bergevin, the Canadiens’ general manager, for a deal that would see Subban sign with Montreal. To break it down simply, Subban was looking for a long-term, expensive deal, in the likes of what his teammate Carey Price secured, and the Montreal Canadiens wanted to give him a shorter contract, so that he could prove himself worthy.
“I want to be paid what I think I deserve,” he would say in interviews. It seemed like the deal would never come.
It’s no secret that Montreal is enamoured by the thought of Subban. Some may argue that we even have a serious, although not deadly, dose of P.K. fever. We love him, on and off the ice, and he’s charmed us all into a trance. That’s why we have to admire Marc Bergevin’s persistence and tenacity for insisting on a short-term deal. It was the right thing to do. Previous Montreal GMs, such as Gainey and Gauthier, would have probably cracked under the pressure and signed Subban to a ridiculous six or seven-year contract worth tens of millions of dollars. It would be way too risky at this stage in Subban’s career to do this. But knowing their characters and the pressure caused by famously impatient Montreal fans, it would’ve been the case.
Deals like the one you were asking for, Subban, don’t happen at your age unless you’re Sidney Crosby or Alexander Ovechkin. Yes, you’re a world class defenceman, and yes, we’re lucky to have you, but like everyone else, like your teammates before you, you need to pay your dues on your way to ultimate stardom.
“For my style of game and for what I do for the team, the amount of minutes I play and for what I bring to the table, I have to be fairly compensated,” Subban told The Gazette in an interview before he was signed.
It was last Monday that Subban realized that the Canadiens weren’t budging, and their surprisingly good start to the season without one of their top defenceman probably pushed the blue-liner to seriously reconsider his position. As veteran Gazette reporter Pat Hickey put it, “the Canadiens could be a better team with Subban filling one of the top four defence spots. But there’s no guarantee and Subban’s position becomes more difficult with each day he remains unsigned.”
We all know he has the drive and the ability to become a top defenceman in the National Hockey League. However, the fame he acquired in just two years in Montreal spread like wildfire, and, as is common in Montreal, spread through to his head as well. Luckily, Subban is much smarter and more mature than others who have walked in his path, and he took the higher road. For that, I congratulate him, and I look forward to seeing him in the bleu-blanc-rouge of the greatest team in the NHL for years to come, and hopefully lift the franchise’s 25th cup along with the rest of his teammates.
Welcome back P.K., we all hope you’re here to stay.