How Ya Like Me Now? PK Subban: Norris Trophy Winner

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Far too many times the Montreal Canadiens see their talent and management passed over for awards or even nominations but with numerous nominations this year, they would surely break their dry spell.  Brendan Gallagher, Calder nominee, played with more heart and consistent production than anyone else this year (perhaps not only amongst league rookies but around the NHL entirely) but came second in voting to native Quebecer and a childhood fan of Les Canadiens, Florida Panthers’ top prospect and surefire future NHL all star Jonathan Huberdeau.  Marc Bergevin, nominee for best GM of the year, took a back seat with Detroit Red Wings mastermind Ken Holland to Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero that only managed to put together a temporary, one year and one run team that would go on to produce results that would only keep their draft pick (that was traded to the Calgary Flames to acquire Jarome Iginla) buried near the bottom of the order and not to mention that Pittsburgh’s squad was largely built by winning draft lottery tickets.


This left but one nominee up for an individual award.  Norris claims hadn’t been lain by a Canadien since Chris Chelios in 1989 and the team’s last individual award came in 1992 when Guy Carbonneau won the Frank J. Selke Award, named after a man so responsible for a considerately large portion of the dynasty that Les Glorieux would become.  This seemed unlikely in the sense that the candidate was openly hated around the league by various rival fan bases and even particular players alike that had criticized him in the past for what they considered to be unsportsmanlike behavior.


The truth is that he was only making them look foolish with an elite level of athleticism, offensive skill and awareness and physically present defence.  This, perhaps particularly attributed to his power play expertise, was what enabled one Pernell Karl Subban to overcome such obstacles and obtain his very first James Norris Trophy.


Through over-hyped and falsified reputations, PK Subban has been deemed in the past as being any of the following descriptions: immature, cocky, disrespectful, “gives off the feeling like he thinks he’s number one”  and many more.


The first two things PK did after winning the trophy were 1: credit his teammates for his level of success and 2: promote younger, 2013 draft eligible, brother Jordan Subban by professing his thoughts that Jordan is “more skilled” than he is and that when they’re skating together during the off season that Jordan, the more cerebral of the two, is the one demonstrating the drills.


This is not the mentality of an individual that could be deemed as cocky or one that comes off as thinking he’s the greatest player in the league.  Even if he did, he wouldn’t be far off of having reason to believe so.


PK, also quick to credit his generations middle child and Boston Bruins prospect goaltender Malcolm Subban, perhaps was selected for his honors this year as the league’s best defenceman beyond his numbers for proving wrongful accusations of his character to be wrong.  PK’s ever growing maturity was showcased from the very start as he not only refused to leave Montreal after the team, city and fan base across the map had invested so greatly in him but early into the season accepted a considerably low ball offer on a two year deal for less than six million dollars.


This only covering the foundation of his growth off the ice, has the speculation now come to new heights that perhaps his deal should have been for slightly more money and perhaps another year or two for the sake of the salary cap? If these two years were for PK to prove himself to be a big money player as he –and any other player in the NHL should– wants to be, perhaps management bit off just a touch more than they could chew as Subban has most definitely scored in superlative numbers both metaphorically and literally with 11 goals and 38 points.  Consider now that Subban totalled higher points after starting a shortened season late than most other defencemen would tally in a full 82 game season.


However, PK hasn’t just grown off the ice.  He’s shown increasing responsibility in his own zone, continued to throw out devastating body  checks and –perhaps most notably– has come to use his flashy style of play, flying by the seat of his pants in often instances in quality situations where they would be most effective.  Instead of opting to expend additional energy (which he clearly has to spare) he has learned that he can be just as effective in particular plays by making a ten foot pass as he could by sidestepping and spin deking even his most challenging opponents.  Far too often when a young player is asked  to make changes in such prominent areas of their game, it not only removes a certain entertainment factor from their play but can also derail their production and shift work entirely.  PK has found ways to stay both dangerous to his opponents and entertaining to his fans.


Yes, it does help that PK is a solid few years ahead of his development schedule and even farther ahead  than that of the development of the average NHL defenceman but this only further goes to prove the case that Subban, if not only for this season, may continue to be recognized as the NHL’s single best blueliner.


Montreal management has touted the mindset of a humble team in spite of being hockey’s foremost dynasty.  This is not a day and age where Canadiens players will skate around the ice during America’s national anthem despite the years in which the team was known to do so were perhaps their most memorable and an easy argument for their most successful.  Did this kind of swagger in their stride perhaps further motivate them at such a time to be the A-level achievers that they were? Perhaps it played a role but as opposed to partaking in such antics before puck drop, Subban opts to skate around his opposition and get under their skin with a level play that could only be bolstered by a style incomparable to any that has been witnessed prior to his debut.


Have the doubters been silenced? Such a situation could cause assumption that it is so.  Will the naysayers finally quiet down this year? Not a chance.  In fact, they will get louder now that Subban has the hardware to back up the hatred bestowed upon him as many of his biggest critics do admit that he is a highly skilled player but will never admit to what level they believe that such is the case.


As his recognition grows, so too do the controversial reactions that follow him everywhere.  If #76 is so much as spotted on the ice, if he’s in possession of the puck, the boos will rain down from Toronto, Boston, Ottawa, Philadelphia and perhaps many other cities in particular but the cheers from Le Centre Bell will only continue to grow just as the evident love from teammates such as Ryan White, Colby Armstrong and others as showcased on 24CH.


The bottom line is: The mentality of PK Subban is one that will allow such a talented player, particularly at a young age, thrive in a city like Montreal with unparalleled pressure on their Canadiens to succeed.  From day one, being plunked into the playoff roster in 2010, Subban has been in nothing but sink or swim situations and has done everything necessary to survive.  Consider now that he’s only a month past turning twenty-four years old and not even in his prime, with evidence that his mental conditioning matches that of his physical conditioning.


If ever there was a sight, captioned into a picture with the ever popular phrase “haters gonna hate” it would, as it stands today, be our man of the hour sporting his brand new trophy as it’s sure to be only the first NHL trophy of many more to come.  Imagine now how these standing sentiments would grow when Subban, being the type of defenceman necessary in order to succeed in doing so, gets his hands on the sport’s richest prize.


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3 Responses to How Ya Like Me Now? PK Subban: Norris Trophy Winner

  1. This article is awful, I should have stopped reading after ” the team’s last individual award came in 1992 when Guy Carbonneau won the Frank J. Selke Award”. The poor reputation Montreal Fans get is often off-set by the level of intelligence those fans bring to the game. Yet this article seems to lack real substance and spoon feeds the reader with childish vain.

    Aside from forgetting perhaps one of the most incredible seasons ever put together by a Habs goalie; in 2002 Theodore won the Hart, Vezina and Crozier award. And for the sake of completion both Koivu and Pacioretty won the Masterton.

    But here is the real point. Winning awards is nice, and it may help with our inferiority complex as we watch two teams battle for their second cups in the last 5 years, but three major questions weren’t even reported on in this article.

    1 Does Subban win with a healthy Karlson or an unhealthy Markov? Impossible to say, but we will have our answers soon. Karlsson continued to shine on 1.5 ankles in the playoffs and Markov is getting older quickly.

    2 If the stanley cup winner will have an asterisk as a consequence to the shortened season shouldn’t NHL awards follow the same convention? Who’s to say Subban would have continued his dominance through the dog days of the season.

    and finally 3, How stupid do you think Bergevin feels for not signing this guy at 5 years 5 million? The truth is nobody knows what the exact figure coulda woulda shoulda been, but everyone agrees long term at 8 million plus was a long shot for Subban. However with the addition of the shinny new award this article is so keen on keeping polished for him, 8 million may now be a bargain compared to what the Subban camp will be asking for.

    Jason Comtois June 16, 2013 at 8:02 pm Reply
    • First of all, I believe what Sean meant was Subban is the first Canadiens skater to win a major player trophy since Carbonneau. This rules out Jose because he was a goaltender, not a skater and it rules out Masterton because thats not a major player award.

      Next, Subban was great when Markov was hurt, does Markov help when he is healthy? Of course he does, but the 2007 second round pick can be classified as elite through the numbers without Markov being there. Karlsson is not a complete d-man and here lies the issue with the Norris award because it tends to take points over anything. If it was for exactly what the award is supposed to stand for, Subban would be victorious which is also proven through advanced stats.

      Lastly, the bridge contract he was given seems more of setting up for the cap crunch rather than making him earn anything. I could bombard you all day with evidence that he should have been locked up to the long-term, 5mil per deal instead of this two-year deal. Regardless of him winning the award in a shortened season, it does not take away from his accomplishment. He put up the same amount of points in 35 less games in comparison to his rookie campaign. Last season, he was still dominant even though the team fell to last in the East. Bergevin will break bank for Subban now and can.

      Also, shinny new award? Didn’t know you got awards for playing shinny.

      Michael Gomez June 16, 2013 at 9:47 pm Reply
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    asyaRew July 4, 2019 at 5:29 am Reply

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