A few days ago, I discussed the possibility of Andrei Markov re-signing with the Montreal Canadiens. Today, the news floating around the Twitterverse is that P.K. Subban‘s contract talks have not yet begun but that they should, shortly.
When P.K. first burst on the scene in the NHL, he was called up in February 2010 from the AHL‘s Hamilton Bulldogs and scored his first NHL point the following day. When he was recalled two months later for the 2010 playoffs there were many who felt he had been brought up too soon. He didn’t have the “pedigree”. He was untried, unproven. Perhaps undisciplined. Despite the fact that he had already won two gold medals in World Juniors, there were doubts about his being brought into the playoffs.
In fact, Subban’s performance in those playoffs was solid. He became the third defenseman in Canadiens’ history to get three assists in one game, as he accomplished the feat in the Eastern Finals against the Philadelphia Flyers. Subban had made his mark on the team. He went back to the AHL after the Habs were eliminated, winning the President’s Award for his accomplishments that season.
He continued to rack up statistics. The first rookie defenseman for the Canadiens to score a hat trick (March 2011). He was a Norris Trophy winner in 2013. He even won a Gold Medal in the Sochi Olympics.
Subban has a bigger-than-life personality. He is popular on and off the ice though it should be noted that applies, mostly, to fans of the Montreal Canadiens. He is often booed at away games; sometimes because he has scored winning goals against their home team but most of the time because it is trendy to boo a player who is so good, one can only boo to express dissatisfaction that he plays for another team.
Subban’s maturity level was clear the first time he gave an interview. He speaks with the eloquence and confidence many veteran players simply don’t possess. He is criticized for “showboating” but is humble in interviews, always giving credit to his teammates above his own performance. He has a big heart, giving back to fans young and old.
Subban gets a raw deal from many; criticized for this very big personality of his. The league might not have been ready for him but he was bursting at the seams to make his mark – and so far he has. A recent cover story for Macleans Magazine profiled this dynamic player, listing his forays into the headlines and praising him for them, a far cry from the pointing fingers of blame he’s gotten elsewhere.
The bottom line as far as the Habs are concerned is his performance. P.K. has a shot that resounds when he takes it from the blue line. A key player in the powerplay, penalty kill, and 5-on-5, he is breaking all kinds of time-on-ice records with numbers up in the 30-minute range. Clearly HC Michel Therrien knows the asset he has in P.K., and despite any rumors of dissension between them, P.K. enjoys Therrien’s usage of his talents in every game. He’s even reined in that “undisciplined” side of his performance.
So why wouldn’t the Montreal Canadiens be proudly waving a new ink-drying contract for the television cameras waiting to capture this moment?
It isn’t that they won’t sign him. No one believes that.
It’s that darn tight-lipped management again.
The Habs don’t discuss contract talks. I don’t believe any team does. But GM Marc Bergevin, in his season-ending press conference, made mention of the definite return of Michel Therrien while being careful to caution that P.K.’s contract talks are “strategic” and that he will not discuss them publicly. He did pair Subban with Price when praising those with leadership qualities. Is that a glimmer of hope on the horizon?
Thing is, without a contract in hand, without that definite “he will be re-signed” or “he has re-signed”, fans are on pins and needles. Of course, it wouldn’t be Habs Nation (the informal name given to those who embrace All-Things-Habs) without rumors, speculation, and everything from stating the obvious to throwing wild conjecture out for all to see.
I believe there’s no chance Subban will wear another team’s colors in the foreseeable future. This merely echoes every other analyst on the scene: there are few people, if any, who want to see P.K. Subban as a visiting player at the Bell Centre in Montreal. He is a huge benefit, not just on the blue line but everywhere on the ice, and his value is rising by the season.
However, on the day P.K. Subban does sign, expect a collective exhale of relief in Montreal.