All eyes on P.K. Subban as Predators face Penguins in Stanley Cup final.
The day dawned sunny and pleasant in Pittsburgh, one day before the beginning of a Stanley Cup final featuring Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and a blossoming hockey underdog, and the only player being followed by the NHL’s fancy documentarystyle cameras was P.K. Subban. There is, after all, only one of him, and he can’t help himself.
“Have you ever played with a personality bigger than P.K.’s?” someone asked Nashville Predators forward Filip Forsberg.
“I don’t know if there is a bigger personality,” Forsberg said.
It could be a big series. Pittsburgh can become the first repeat winner since Detroit in 1998. Nashville is a16th seed, and a fascinating underdog.
And it’s all about P.K. Montreal loved him. The Canadiens traded him. Their coach used to tell people he could never win a Cup with P.K., and P.K. is second on his new team in playoff ice time, matched up against Vladimir Tarasenko in the second round and Ryan Getzlaf in the third. He’ll get Sid or Geno here.
“I know what he’s going through, and what he dealt with,” said Phil Kessel, a fellow iconic exile. “Obviously he wants to win really bad because he got, you know, I’d say, the shaft in Montreal a little bit. That’s how it goes. You want to prove people wrong. I know what he’s feeling like.”
“I respect him as a player and I respect his opinion,” said Subban, who dropped by Kessel’s Stanley Cup party in Toronto. “Phil’s a guy who speaks his mind and I respect him for that.”
Meanwhile, Subban is on the big stage now, and he knows it. In a pre-arranged move, he cut short his media session to grab a mic and ask teammates questions for the NHL Network: He finished with Ryan Ellis, who started with, “Get out of here, Subbie,” but he played along.
Ellis: “It’s my teammates. I mean, guys that go out and battle with me every day. I mean, you’ve got P.K. Subban on your team: Imagine playing with P.K. Subban. Oh, it’s a dream come true. That’s all it is.”
Subban: “And you’ve seen him in the shower. You have, right?” Ellis: “I try to avoid that part.” Subban: “We’re going to go offscript. I know that you’re not married yet, you have a girlfriend, but Ryan, you must have had a lot of girlfriends coming through junior, with all the success that you had. How did you manage that?”
Ellis, rolling his eyes. “Yeah, I mean, it was just models at every turn, Victoria’s Secret shows, all that. That’s more your alley, I guess. For me it’s just, I’ve got my girl, and I’m pretty happy. I know for you, that’s the wild card you can play.”
P.K. has a long history of driving teammates nuts, even when he doesn’t make . . . er, shower jokes. He drove them nuts in Montreal with his constant need for attention, his happiness win or lose, his incessant P.K.-ness in a sport that tries to stuff personality and individualism in a box and throw it into the sea. I mean, even Carey Price didn’t go out of his way to visit with P.K. when the Habs visited Nashville.
But now, whether his teammates are grinding their teeth or not, the organization has enough room for him, in every way. Did the trade change him? Has Nashville?
“No,” Subban said. “No. I don’t think so. I think that, if anything, it’s allowed me to be the way I’ve always been.”
“We obviously heard a lot about things that happened in Montreal, some good, maybe some not so good,” Predators president and general manager David Poile said. “The whole idea was to get on the same page. Just like the meeting with him, the first meeting we had, like, ‘What are your goals?’ He said, ‘To win the Stanley Cup.’ I said, ‘That’s what our goals are, too.’ If we can get that straightened away in terms of your desires to be the best hockey player you can be, and we can both work towards winning the Stanley Cup together, we’ve got mostly everything covered.”
And then P.K. arrived and he jumped right on stage, because he never stops.
“Well, I mean, when I got traded, it’s not like it popped up into my head that I was going to fly into Nashville and perform ‘Folsom Prison (Blues)’ on stage at Tootsie’s,” said Subban.
“It was sort of like a spontaneous thing that just sort of happened, and I honestly walked in — and they were just walking me down the strip to show me the strip — and I walked in, there must have been 15 or 20 people in there, and the owner’s like, why don’t you sing us a song, get up there?
“And what am I going to say, no? Everyone’s looking at me. So I just hopped up there and did it.”
Many NHL players probably would have demurred, but to P.K., the idea of not performing — of being asked to perform and saying no, thank you — is foreign. He really can’t help himself. It’s mostly pretty great.
So, P.K. was asked, in Nashville, are you freer to be you?
“Yeah, I guess you could say that,” said Subban, before cutting the interview off. He said, “Guys, I gotta go. I gotta ask questions of myself.”
He meant of others, of course. Everyone questions P.K., it seems, but the man himself.
“We heard a lot about things . . . in Montreal, some good, maybe some not so good.” DAVID POILE ON TRADING FOR P.K. SUBBAN
Montreal didn’t think it could win a Stanley Cup with P.K. Subban. Nashville is four wins away.