P.K. Subban signed a contract today, keeping him with the Montreal Canadiens for the next eight years. The contract is for a reported $72 million, and this makes P.K. Subban not only the third-highest player in the NHL (behind only Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin), but the player with the longest contract awarded in Habs history.
He gave a news conference via phone this evening. Here, now, are some of the highlights.
Many questions were aimed at the process of arbitration. Fans, analysts and writers wondered why it had to get to this point. Many on social media called out the team for not locking in their best player before it got to this and railed at management for not showing confidence in Subban by offering a contract earlier. P.K. shed light on his experience.
It was an “educational, healthy, respectful process.” It was a matter of arriving at a deal that would be comfortable for all parties involved. He mentioned as well that it is “part of the process, the game and the CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement)” and they followed all the steps necessary. Subban repeatedly stated that the entire process was respectful, all business, never negative, never personal.
When asked if there were any hard feelings he might take away from the arbitration, he said, “I’m a professional hockey player, it’s my job to be professional. I have more respect for (general manager) Marc Bergevin and (team owner) Geoff Molson than ever. I’m more thankful for the opportunity the Montreal Canadiens gave me to play in the NHL, and to excel as one of their best players, and I respect the process as a positive experience.”
Eight years is the maximum allowable number of years a player can be signed. Asked, P.K. replied:
“It shows a strong commitment to me by the team. This is different from any other Canadiens contract and it sends me a strong message that they want me here. Now, there’s no speculation about that fact, no question about how the Montreal Canadiens feel about me. I would take a twenty-year contract if I could!” Montreal is where he’s always wanted to be. One of his more poignant statements came when he said, “I wanted a long-term contract before I deserved it.”
No one doubts the delight Subban must be feeling with a stable future guaranteed, but he continuously expressed his excitement with the longevity he now has in Montreal.
Subban addressed the perception of negativity, futility and uncertainty. At no time did he ever doubt the deal would get done. He said contrary to popular belief, the process was never dead. “There are stages to go through and people may not like it, but it has to get done in its own time, in its own way. We all came together to see it get done,” he said, speaking of the team management, his agent, and himself. He ignored the public perceptions, saying it was never negative.
He was disturbed by social media attacks on Bergevin, disappointed and unsettled by negative tweets. He praised Bergevin, asking the public to “lay off him now, I’m close to the organization, I was there, I know what was happening.”
Asked if this will change him in any way, he stated that it won’t nor does he want perceptions of him to change. “I’ll always remain the same player and the same guy I am, because I want to win. How I carry myself on and off the ice shows respect. There’s a formula for winning and what you’re making doesn’t have anything to do with that.” He plans to excel in the role he is expected to play and that’s to help his team win the Stanley Cup. He holds himself to the highest standard and nothing changes that.
Finally, he was asked about the captaincy which has yet to be assigned. He would be flattered but there are a lot of other potential leaders in the room. “I lead by example. I’m not one who speaks up in the room, but I’m a leader on the ice. With or without a letter on my jersey. That’s my role.”
Whether or not he does get a letter, it’s clear that P.K. Subban’s fans share his excitement to be with the team through 2022. This young man shows an articulate eloquence, poise, and maturity that are matched only by his stellar on-ice performance.