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 pksubban.com, 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:
BREAKING NEWS: @PKSubban1 responds after being traded from the Canadiens to the Predators.https://t.co/nQjW6gnpiO
— UNINTERRUPTED (@uninterrupted) June 29, 2016
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:
At a family dinner, relatives are saying ‘but #PKSubban is the only player I know’. ..
— Anna Asimakopulos (@asimakoaa) June 30, 2016
and this one:
I don’t know if people who don’t live in Montreal can understand how much he was loved and what he meant to this community. #PKSubban
— Yan Basque (@yanbasque) June 30, 2016
and then #fuckingHabs started trending:
Call me old fashioned but it’s more fun to watch PK Subban play hockey than it is to watch Michel Therrien coach hockey. #fuckingHabs
— Jay Baruchel (@BaruchelNDG) June 30, 2016
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.