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Could playing in the Sochi Olympics change P.K. Subban for the better?

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P.K. Subban of the Montreal Canadiens

Though he’s won the Norris Trophy, P.K. Subban still have much untapped potential. (Bill Streicher/Icon SMI)

By Allan Muir

At the 1976 Canada Cup tournament, a young Guy Lafleur was over the moon to learn that he’d been assigned to share a room with his idol Bobby Orr. Though they were rivals in the NHL, the two quickly hit it off and spent hours talking about the game, about winning, about getting the most out of their God-given talent. Lafleur later said the experience of playing with the legend whose poster hung in his locker changed his life.

Five years later, at the 1981 Canada Cup, Lafleur paid that debt forward by taking a young Wayne Gretzky under his wing. Six years after that, it was The Great One’s turn to challenge a rising star, to help him build a bridge from stardom to hockey immortality.

“I learned so much about how the great players work and conduct themselves,” Mario Lemieux said years later. “Remember, I was only 21 years old at the time. To be around guys like Wayne and Mark Messier and Paul Coffey, guys who’d already had so much success and had won Stanley Cups, was a tremendous learning experience. It gave me an opportunity to start my career and really learn what it meant to be a champion and the best in the game.”

That opportunity for one generation to pass along its wisdom to the next will present itself again next month in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. Returning home with gold will be the primary goal of every player who heads to Sochi, but for young ones like P. K. Subban, John Tavares and Matt Duchene, the opportunity to study under a master for two weeks could wind up being more important to them and their careers than a medal that ends up in a drawer somewhere.

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  • Published On Jan 10, 2014
  • Canadiens coach Michel Therrien may know what he’s doing with P.K. Subban

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    P.K. Subban of the Montreal Canadiens

    P.K. Subban’s pride may be hurt by having to sit late in close games, but his team comes first. ( Francois Lacasse/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    You know how it is with the NBA. Watch the final four or five minutes of any game and you’ve probably seen all the drama.

    It’s getting to be the same way with the Montreal Canadiens.

    The biggest story in La Belle Province these days isn’t whether the Habs won or lost, but whether Michel Therrien played P.K. Subban in the dying minutes of a close contest. Because, in a lot of games lately, the coach of the Canadiens has concluded that it’s safer to glue the All-Star’s behind to the bench during crunch time.

    Subban, you might recall, won the Norris Trophy as the best defenseman in the NHL last season, making him the sort of guy most coaches would want on the ice with the game on the line. Of course, no one is suggesting he won that award because of his unmatched shutdown abilities. He is, first and foremost, an offensive weapon, someone who helps keep the puck out of his net by moving it as far from his zone as possible.

    But that hasn’t been enough for Therrien.

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  • Published On Nov 07, 2013
  • P.K. Subban, Kris Letang, Ryan Suter named 2013 Norris Trophy finalists

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    Ryan Suter

    After proving he’s a bona fide workhorse No. 1, Ryan Suter will be tough to beat. (Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    This morning, the NHL announced the three finalists for this year’s Norris Trophy, given annually to “the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-around ability in the position,” as chosen by the Professional Hockey Writers Association. And not one of them was named Lidstrom, Chara or Weber.

    In fact, all three of this year’s nominees — Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang, Montreal’s P.K. Subban and Minnesota’s Ryan Suter — are first-timers. A signal of a changing of the guard among the league’s elite blueliners? That’s never a bad thing. All three deserve the recognition.

    So, who’s going to win it?

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  • Published On May 07, 2013
  • P.K. Subban ends holdout, signs 2-year deal with Montreal Canadiens

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    P.K. Subban

    Defenseman P.K. Subban has tallied 21 goals and 55 assists in his three-year career in Montreal. [G Fiume/Getty Images]

    By Allan Muir

    Ultimately, every negotiation comes down to leverage.

    In the contract battle between P.K. Subban and the Montreal Canadiens, the Habs had all the cards. No surprise then that GM Marc Bergevin got almost exactly the deal he wanted when he signed the RFA defender Monday night for two years at $5.75 million.

    Not $5.75 million per year. $5.75 million, total.

    That’s a steal.

    And that’s why Bergevin is walking around like a boss.

    “I think at this point it was the right decision for me to make,” a subdued Subban said on a conference call Monday night.

    At some point today, he came to the realization it was the only decision he could make. He wasn’t going to sit out the season and no team was going to swoop in and goose the pot with an offer sheet. It was settle or stay home.

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  • Published On Jan 28, 2013
  • Top Line: Caps’ GM on the hot seat, Marleau’s hot hand, more links

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    Patrick Marleau has four multi-goal games to start the season. (Icon SMI)

    Patrick Marleau has four multi-goal games to start the season. (Icon SMI)

    By Allan Muir

    A guide to this morning’s must-read stories around the NHL.

    • Kevin Paul Dupont leads off Sunday’s best notes column with thoughts on Derek Sanderson and the latest cranky old man ramblings from Montgomery Burns Jeremy Jacobs.

    • Is the seat under Caps’ GM George McPhee getting a little warm? He could be on the hook if the winless Caps don’t turn things around in a big way this season. That parade to the penalty box might be a big part of the team’s problem.

    • With another two-goal game in Saturday’s 4-0 win over the hapless Avs, Eddie Munster Patrick Marleau ties a 96-year-old record.

    • If last night’s Dallas-St. Louis contest was the first hockey game you’d ever watched, you could be forgiven to thinking that David Perron is the best player in the world. That was a jaw-dropping performance. Here are the highlights .

    • Should the Maple Leafs offer sheet P.K. Subban? Only if they’ve somehow forgotten about giving up on the top-10 draft picks that turned into Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton.

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  • Published On Jan 27, 2013
  • Player anger, plea to save the Classic, more green spilled, and PK’s forecast

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    PK Subban

    The NHL forecast calls for more stalemate, lost revenue, no Winter Classic, and scrambling for side jobs. Loquacious Canadiens blueliner PK Subban may have found his calling. (Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    It’s the end of October and the owners’ locks remain on the doors of all NHL facilities. The most interesting news from the battlefront so far this week is that NHLPA Executive Director Don Fehr traveled to Minnesota on Tuesday to meet with players and review the stalemated CBA negotiations.

    Reading some of the coverage of Fehr’s visit, like this story from Bruce Brothers of The St. Paul Pioneer-Press, it’s obvious that some of the players are angry, or at least bordering on it. And, as Michael Russo of The Minneapolis Star-Tribune wrote, some players are concerned about the long-term impact that the lockout will have on their careers. Those reactions are realities of the situation, but they don’t seem to have appreciably dented the union’s resolve.

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  • Published On Oct 31, 2012
  • P.K. Subban rumors overblown

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    NHL free agent P.K. Subban of the Canadiens in negotiating a new contract.

    Defenseman P.K. Subban is a desirable restricted free agent, but the Canadiens are not an easy franchise to raid. (Minas Panagiotakis/Icon SMI)

    By Stu Hackel

    Among the most buzz-y stories this week has been the plight of Pernell Karl Subban, the Canadiens’ restricted free agent defenseman who remains unsigned. It’s worth questioning, however, if this story is worth all the buzz, although almost everything involving P.K. grabs the hockey world by the lapels and screams for attention, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

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  • Published On Aug 03, 2012
  • Trade talk pot is boiling

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    One to watch: hot blueline prospect Justin Schultz may dodge the Ducks by not signing with them and could be grabbed by another team without having to make a trade for him. (Brace Hemmelgarn/Icon SMI)

    By Stu Hackel

    We wrote late last week that the trade and free agent rumor mill was heating up. Today it is starting to boil.

    There’s always talk about who might be on the move when the calendar hits June, but this gumbo of gossip has some unique ingredients. For starters, the Entry Draft starts on Friday and this year’s draft class is not considered to be particularly strong. With a number of teams holding high picks and wanting to change their fortunes sooner rather than later, dealing them for established talent might be the way to go. Throw in a few disgruntled big name players who desire new addresses and teams facing salary cap issues while trying to re-sign some of their unrestricted free agents before they hit the market on July 1, and you’ve got a buffet of  buzz.

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  • Published On Jun 19, 2012
  • GMs still fall short on concussions

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    NHL GMs have been moving cautiously toward improved safety, trying not to alter the game’s nature. (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    An alarming spike in concussions earlier this season caused some NHL general managers to propose rolling back rule changes and possibly returning the game to the somnolent Dead Puck Era, but as of mid-Tuesday afternoon there seemed to be little coming out of their Boca Raton Florida meetings that indicates they favor stiffer penalties or longer suspensions for players who willfully target an opponent’s head.

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  • Published On Mar 13, 2012
  • Barch ruling a missed opportunity

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    This fracas led to P.K. Subban (bottom) being targeted by a remark that was perceived as racist by the referee who heard it. (Doug Murray/Reuters)

    By Stu Hackel

    The NHL suspended Florida forward Krys Barch for the game the Panthers played Thursday night against the Rangers — and, yes, I am very weary of writing about suspensions, but this one is a bit different.

    The reason for the one-gamer was Barch’s use of “inappropriate language” during his team’s game against Montreal in a now-traditional New Year’s Eve afternoon contest. It was an unusual transgression and the whole incident remains murky, which is too bad, because the NHL could have turned it into a valuable, teachable moment or clearly exonerated a player who was wrongly accused of making a racist remark.

    Let’s briefly run through the event as best we can. With 1.2 seconds left in a first period that had gotten feisty, there was a face-off in the Florida zone to the right of goalie Jose Theodore. The puck was dropped and Habs defenseman P.K. Subban, who had lined up in the left face-off circle, charged the net in hope of creating some havoc, if not to knock the puck past Theodore.

    The puck went harmlessly in another direction, however, and Subban ended up bumping with Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson at the top of the crease. The buzzer sounded, Gudbranson slashed at Subban’s stick, and Subban shoved him with a forearm. Gudbranson then threw his arm around Subban’s neck and wrestled him to his knees as players from both teams, and the linesmen, began to converge.

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  • Published On Jan 06, 2012


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