All eyes on P.K. Sub­ban as Preda­tors face Pen­guins in Stan­ley Cup fi­nal.

Toronto Star - - FRONT PAGE - Bruce Arthur In Pitts­burgh

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.

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