The Subban Sizzle

Written By: Iain Carnegie, BBBR

(Montreal, QC.) – Is he mildly undisciplined? Yes. Is he UN-coachable? Some would say so. Will he inevitably become one of the best defensemen in the entire NHL. Without doubt.

He’s a Norris Trophy winner in the making.

And yet, PK Subban has quickly become the latest in the line of scapegoats within the Montreal fan-base and media – whether social or mainstream.

This has not been the season that Subban was hoping to have as a follow-up to his break-out year last season. Although the stats aren’t terribly far off, it seems the mistake count is on the rise, and that he’s not taking to being coached too well.

He leads all players on the team with a massive 48 turnovers in 47 games. The only other player close to that stat is Hal Gill with 42. When you consider the griping about Andrei Kostitsyn always turning the puck over, and he has recorded only 21 so far this season, it puts things into perspective. You also need to take into account that too many of those 48 recorded have led to opposition goals.

But I thought I said he was going to be a future Norris Trophy winner? Am I a believer in this kid or not?

You bet I am. When I consider the giveaway stat from all players throughout the league, Subban is by no means the worst offender. That title falls to the  San Jose Sharks veteran forward Joe Thornton (60). Not far behind him is Senator center Jason Spezza (57), and 3rd year defenseman for the Washington Capitols – John Carlson (55).

When I consider the rest of his stats, Subban is not terribly behind where he was last year either. In 77 games played in 2010, the young defender racked up 38 points (14G 24A) and was a -8 in the plus/minus differential. He took 197 shots and received 124 minutes in penalties.

Based on what Subban has done statistically this year (3G, 16A, 0 plus/minus, 55 PIM and 127 SOG), he is on track to finish the season with 32 points while decreasing his penalty minutes (95) and increasing his shot totals (219).

It makes you wonder what the reasoning is behind all the negativity.

This is a typical Montreal Canadiens story. Rookie gets the call up and performs. Said rookie gets a shot at the full-time schedule the following year and shines. Same player then has thousands of pounds of pressure placed on him to duplicate or over achieve, and when this doesn’t happen, the fans and media jump off the bandwagon, and the criticism flies.

I would hate to have to play hockey in this town. I would feel privileged, but it would gnaw at me constantly.

I’m not saying that there aren’t issues that need addressed with this young defenseman. There are moments when he seems to be more apt to make excuses than to hunker down and take the coaching staff’s advice. There are moments when it looks like he fails to “man-up” to his errors, but keep in mind that he’s still just a kid playing a man’s game. These inconsistencies and attitudes can be corrected.

There’s the latest fine of $2500 that’s been leveled at Subban for a potential “slew-footing” incident, and if that doesn’t send a message to the coaching staff that they need to pull in the reigns a bit, nothing will.

So I stay the course in saying that the franchise is where the action needs to stem from to guide this youngster back in the correct direction.

Remember who put him into this elevated state of self-absorption to begin with. It wasn’t him chanting his own name loudly from the stands every time he handled the puck. It wasn’t his responsibility that media interviewed him at every intermission making him feel inevitably like the favoured son.

So before we get brash and start calling for Gauthier to shop “the talent” while he’s still worth big money, sit back and let reasonable thought take over.

Does he need some firm coaching to straighten out some of the issues. Most definitely. If necessary, should he sit a game or two? Why not – if it gets his attention.

At the end of the day, there are only two outcomes. The Canadiens franchise can get firm and guide him correctly, while the fans and media take a positive approach to his continued tenure here in Montreal; or we can make him the latest scapegoat, run him out-of-town, and look back with deep regret that we let another great one get away.

There’s a reason why Carey Price and PK Subban are so close. They’ve both been down this road, and we all know how stupid it would have been to trade Price.


About Iain Carnegie (@emann_222 on Twitter)

I have followed the Montreal Canadiens for over twenty years, even while living in the heart of Toronto. I spent 5 years in the mecca of hockey, moving to the Plateau region of Montreal in the summer of 2009, I've been writing extensively on the Habs franchise at Bleed Blue Blanc Rouge BBBR has now moved to it's new home here at WordPress, , where content continues to matter.
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