P.K. Subban: Exemplary Hero

Photo: Bruce Bennett, Getty Images

Photo: Bruce Bennett, Getty Images

P.K. Subban: Exemplary Hero

P.K. Subban‘s injury Thursday evening affected an untold number of people; why was it so impactful? Because he is an exemplary hero to so many people, of all ages.

I tried to put it into words late into the night; the emotions were running wild after seeing the incident and his exit from the arena. But this morning, reading fans on Twitter who were expressing the same feelings I was experiencing, it hit me: he is our hero.

First, an update:

The Canadiens announced this morning that P.K. Subban has been released from the hospital, following last night’s frightening incident in which he was taken off the ice on a stretcher.

The Habs’ Twitter account released this statement:


Whatever the injury was, it is good to know that he is fine; clearly, if it were more serious, he would not have been released.

We don’t have any further details, but will report them as the Habs release them. Watch our Facebook page and Twitter account for up-to-the-minute developments.

There’s no question as to the impact Subban’s injury made upon everyone in the hockey world, Habs fan or not; P.K. has missed only a handful of games since becoming a Habs player, and they were healthy scratches. He has remained remarkably sturdy in his career, and perhaps it’s that fact alone that magnified the potential injury for fans.

You need only look at the faces of every attendee at the Bell Centre, as the camera panned the hushed arena. This photo alone captures the shock, fear, and distress of fans as P.K. writhed on the ice.

Photo: Eric Bolte - USA TODAY Sports

Photo: Eric Bolte – USA TODAY Sports

So, what is it about this one man that has so affected us?

I saw this series of tweets this morning, and this fan expresses what I believe we all feel:

He brought last night’s emotions back to the surface for me as I read that. And it made me remember what made me a P.K. fan from the beginning.

My own hockey “awakening” came in 2010, when the Habs went to the ECF. That year, the Canadian team had won gold in Vancouver, and both my kids became hockey players. I had no choice but to become a more knowledgeable hockey fan from the one I’d been (“Habs put the puck in the right net, we all applaud, Habs win the Cup” – I grew up in that wondrous time in this city when Habs were perpetual Champions). I learned everything from rules, to strategy, and eventually the business side of hockey.

That year, P.K. was called up from the Hamilton Bulldogs when the Habs were in a do-or-die situation against Washington: they were down 3 games to 2.  The pundits were concerned that Subban wasn’t ready to face the big leagues yet, however he proved them wrong.

In his first game with the Habs, against the Washington Capitals, he got his first point – an assist on what ended up being the game-winning goal – and recorded his first goal 4 days later in the second round against the Pittsburgh Penguins. That year, in the ECF Game 3 against the Flyers (the only game the Habs won that series), he became the 3rd rookie defenseman in Habs history to record 3 points (assists) in one game.

But it was his first press conference that piqued my admiration. This “kid” (he was almost 21 at the time) was just a few years older than my older son, but in the public eye, thrust into a coveted role most hockey players aspired to achieve, and his articulate eloquence, and mature awareness – of self, team, and game – he impressed me beyond words.

He grew into the role he plays now, almost seamlessly. Sure, he was known as “risky”  but he has an energy that bursts out of him, it’s that electrical. For that reason, he exudes enthusiasm every game, no matter what’s happening on the ice.

As he became an elite defenseman, as he became the Habs’ highest-paid franchise player, and as he took the role of Alternate Captain to heart, he has shown an increase in the maturity he already had. A keen sense of self-possession that radiates to his teammates, and continues to be a source of their own performances.

When P.K. is paired with a defenseman, magic frequently happens to his linemate. He is a play-maker (currently with 51 points, he is 5th in the league for assists, with 45).

Off the ice, he doesn’t play the role of humanitarian: it’s one he lives.  He has shown how much he loves to give, and besides being a hero for those of us who see the big picture, P.K. is a hero for kids everywhere. For the kids who hope to grow up to be hockey players, for those who may not want to play but who see how exciting he is to follow, and for those who just fall for that contagious smile and infectious personality with every video he releases.

I suggest checking out his YouTube channel, here. P.K. loves the camera and it is mutual. He has filmed commercials, he’s posted videos of the things he’s done in different communities (from Montreal to Haiti), and he has embraced his celebrity status with grace and humility.

If you – like I – can’t get enough of P.K. on video, check out the Canadiens’ video channel, especially the Duels. Come for the P.K. videos, stay for the rest of the team, Duels are hilarious fun. But you get a sense of P.K. – the man behind the scenes – and perhaps you’ll understand why he means so much to so many.

I’m biased – I have but one Habs jersey, and it’s #76. From the moment he hit the ice in those playoffs, I followed his career with the knowledge that this guy was going to Be Someone someday. It didn’t take long.

But there are those who aren’t P.K. fans – and that’s okay. The thing is, even those who aren’t his fans – who badmouth him if he’s taken a penalty, or hasn’t gotten a point every game – were as dismayed, as stunned, and as emotionally upset as his biggest fans when he was taken off the ice Thursday evening.

That’s the beauty of this game, and of its fans; there is a unity that transcends the ice, that renders the game, its score, even the season irrelevant when one of our own faces adversity.

Happily, P.K. is going to be fine – and though he’s out of hospital, the Canadiens’ Twitter account announced that he will not play against the Minnesota Wild Saturday evening. Try not to read into it; we don’t know the nature of the injury, but it’s likely he has some recovery time ahead. As long as it wasn’t serious, that’s all that matters.

P.K. tweeted earlier – and I will leave you with his words:

It’s his fans who thank him – for making the team that much more intoxicating to watch. On behalf of All About The Habs, and personally as well, we wish him a swift, and complete recovery.

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