In case you haven’t heard, the Montreal Canadiens traded P.K. Subban to the Nashville Predators for fellow all-star defenseman Shea Weber. As a playoff bandwagon jumper/regular season casual observer, I don’t consider myself knowledgeable enough in hockey to properly analyse what this means for the team on the ice next season except to say that, on paper, defense star for defense star seems like a fair trade.

Where the logic falls apart, though, is when you look beyond the rink. P.K. Subban has fully entrenched himself in Montreal and has become a local celebrity.

A Total Showman

Subban is quite the performer. From the stylish outfits he wears to games and promotes on his website, he has a signature style off the ice that is hard to mimic. It’s also a style that goes over quite well in Montreal and is well-received coming from him because we are a hockey town.

While most NHL players take the summer off, P. K. was preparing to host a show at this year’s Just for Laughs Festival. He may not be a comedian by trade, but he sure knows how to entertain. Just for Laughs has confirmed that the show is going ahead as planned, so at least there will be one more time people can catch P.K. play Montreal before, you know, he his playing us in a Nashville Predators uniform.

A Charitable Man

While P.K did sign quite the expensive contract, $72 million, he decided to give back to the community. He pledged that his foundation would raise $10 million for the Montreal Children’s Hospital over the next seven years (his JFL show is part of that). In this video, his response to the trade news, he indicates that he will live up to that promise:

The Children’s Hospital, which he also made a surprise visit to during the holidays last year, released a statement through its foundation today saying they were “saddened to learn yesterday that our favourite hockey player had been traded to Nashville. However, we are grateful that P.K. will continue to honour his commitment to our patients and their families.”

One thing is clear. This is a man who set down roots in Montreal, not someone who was planning on leaving anytime soon.

Social Media Revolt

And the Montreal community really doesn’t want him to go, either. While the hockey press lamented this as the worst trade the Habs have made since Patrick Roy and even the worst in Habs history, the reaction on Twitter pretty much says it all. There’s this tweet:

and this one:

and then #fuckingHabs started trending:

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. With most of the commentary against the trade, a few Montrealers are now saying that they’re “done with the Habs” at least until the team gets rid of coach Michel Therrien (a dispute between him and Subban is a rumoured reason for the trade) and GM Marc Bergevin.

While tempers may cool as the weather gets colder and the Habs start playing again, it’s clear that damage has been done. Maybe not damage to the team, but most definitely to the team’s image in the eyes of many.

P.K. Subban has already left his mark culturally on Montreal and that won’t soon be forgotten.

One of the biggest criticisms of internet activism is that it does nothing except make you feel good. You can share a status, sign a petition or change your Facebook profile pic and feel your job is done when it’s anything but. I Can Go Without hopes to change that with a new app that gives conscious consumers the chance to go without daily purchases like a cup of coffee or a cab ride and give that money to the efficient, sustainable charity of their choice immediately.

“The conscious consumer is the single largest potential force for good in the world,” said ICGW co-founder Paul Rowland in an interview at this month’s Jeudi d’Apollo. “They’ve already revolutionized the whole cosmetics industry to be more aware of what they’re doing. Everybody recycles now, that’s conscious consumerism.”

The team came up with the idea over breakfast. There was a famine happening at the time with a billion dollar shortfall in aid. Realizing that Facebook was close to getting its billionth member, they thought that one group of people could help the other.

Paul Rowland I Can Go Without
I Can Go Without co-founder Paul Rowland outside Les jeudis d’Apollo (photo by Valeria Bismar)

“What if everybody today went without one coffee and just gave that money to this fund? Let’s say it’s a three dollar coffee,” Rowland recounted their thinking, “they would have three times the money they needed. It’s this social hive philanthropy of people getting together. That’s the ultimate dream.”

While the ultimate goal may take a while to reach, ICGW already works with charities like the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation, Dans La Rue and Oxfam. They’re also in talks with businesses whose models they find ethical and sustainable, to have them match donations the organization receives from individuals.

“When you get involved in this stuff you realize there are a lot of ethical companies trying to do some good,” Rowland observed, explaining that “if you go without, they will go without, too.”

That doesn’t mean that ICGW would take money from just anyone. Access to water, health care, shelter, food and education are the five pillars of the organization and companies whose practices counter any of these pillars wouldn’t be a good match.

But what if, say, a company that makes plastic water bottles, which is not sustainable and works against one of their pillars, came to them with a million dollars? Knowing all the good that they could do with that money, Rowland admits that it wouldn’t be the easiest decision they would have to make,  but their principles would definitely play a huge part in it.

“It’s a whole jigsaw puzzle,” he explained, “and all those pieces interact with each other and have an effect, so if we’re supporting water and trying to make sure that it is accessible to everyone, then advocating plastic bottles, it doesn’t make any sense.”

This could be one of the reasons why their focus remains squarely on small amounts from individuals. After all, it’s not like they’re asking people to give up their Ferraris (though Rowland admits they wouldn’t say no if someone did want to go without a sports car and donate to a cause).

“I love beer, I love wine,” Rowland says, “but I’m pretty sure that in one month I could drink one less beer or have one less glass of wine. It’s not really a big ask.”

For more information or to download the app, please visit