P.K. Subban making his case for Olympic team
Montreal Canadiens defenceman isn't fazed by critics
During an interview last season on the subject of his younger brother Jordan, Montreal Canadiens defenceman P.K. Subban had a lot to say on the perception people have had of him in relation to his draft year.
“If the 2007 draft were to be redone, I’m convinced that some people would reconsider and I would not be drafted on the second round," said Subban, while also referring to the not so enviable position of his brother Jordan Subban, who would go on to be drafted in the fourth round in 2013 by the Vancouver Canucks.
Without being so direct, it seems that P.K. Subban could say the same thing about his own chances of making the Canadian Olympic team for the Sochi Games. Since Wednesday, several media members have been maintaining that if the decision had to be made this week, Subban would not make the team.
“I don’t pay attention to what analysts are saying,” he replied when asked while leaving practice on Thursday. “I have many friends who listen to them, but not me. I trust my abilities, I don’t need someone to say how good I am, I’m going to discover that on my own. If people want to criticize, it’s not my job to think about that. My job is to play.”
Questioned on the same subject, Montreal coach Michel Therrien elected to remain neutral, unlike some of his peers like Dallas coach Lindy Ruff, who did not hesitate to defend his protégés Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn this past week, or Predators general manager David Poile, who had some nice words for his American defenceman Seth Jones.
“It’s not for me to say,” said Therrien. “I take care of [my] team, I make sure my players improve. And no decision has been made yet. There’s a constant improvement with Subban, we keep on working with him.”
Does Therrien see him as a defenceman of international calibre?
“Want it or not, it’s the Team Canada managers who will decide. My opinion won’t change a thing. I take care of my player. I’m not going to start commenting on Team Canada, or on the U.S. or Russian teams.”
A thorn in his heel?
When in offensive mode, Subban has certainly demonstrated that he belongs to the best of his profession, not only in this country but in the world. His skating, his fakes and his powerful slapshots make him the biggest offensive threat of the past two seasons among Habs players.
The numbers are also in his favour. He was the best scorer amongst the NHL defencemen last season, along with Pittsburgh Penguins blueliner Kris Letang, and won the Norris Trophy. Subban once again reigns at the top of his profession for points. He also helped the Canadiens rank fifth on the power play last season, and seventh so far this year.
The problem lies elsewhere. When short-handed, for example, he is the least utilized defenceman by Therrien. Tuesday, when the Canadiens were defending their one-goal lead against the Dallas Stars, he finished his night at 17:12 in the third period, while Therrien chose to have Douglas Murray play next to Andrei Markov.
“When I look at his ice time, he is having more this year compared to last,” notes Therrien. “There’s an increase in the equation.”
“I’m not the coach”, Subban reminds us. “I focus on my work, on sending the puck into the net of my opponents and on stopping them from putting it in my net.”
The other problem for Subban is out of his control. There are too many candidates for the right side spots on Team Canada. Letang, Shea Weber, Drew Doughty, Brent Seabrook, Alex Pietrangelo and Dan Boyle all play from the right.
A Norris Trophy doesn’t fix everything, obviously.