BOSTON — There is plenty that Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban does on the ice that rubs people who aren’t Habs fans the wrong way. Whether it’s the occasional embellishment or yapping after the whistle, his ability to get under the opposition’s skin is among the best in the NHL.
But what Subban showed Saturday afternoon at TD Garden off of the ice certainly says a lot about P.K. Subban the person, who is certainly much, much different than the hockey player we all see on the ice. It’s also more important.
Subban gave a brilliantly poignant response in his first public comments since being the target of racist tweets following Game 1 of the Canadiens’ series with the Bruins in their second-round Stanley Cup playoff series. Those hateful remarks from faceless nobodies quickly became the story on Friday as eager reporters pelted players on both sides with questions about the disgusting tweets.
In just a matter of a few seconds on Saturday following the Canadiens’ 5-3 loss to the Bruins in Game 2, however, Subban put everything into a perspective that few people on all sides had been able to find in the last couple of days. “
“They have passionate fans here, great fan base and since I’ve been in the league it’s been awesome,” Subban raved about the same people who boo him every time he touches the puck. “I’ve come to Boston many times, my family has come here, and it’s been great. What people may say on Twitter or social media is not a reflection by any means of the league or the Boston Bruins.
“So whoever that is, they’ll get dealt with, but it’s completely separate from this league or the Boston Bruins organization. I know some of those players personally on that team, like I said, the fan base has been awesome, they are a great bunch of fans.”
It’s easy to see why so many people around the Canadiens rave about Subban the person as much as they do Subban the player. It takes a lot of perspective to look at that situation and be able to separate a handful of ignorant people and the real fans who, deep down, respect Subban’s ability. The reason he gets booed in Boston has as much to do with the fact that he plays so darn good against the B’s as it does anything else. Subban certainly knows that, but for him to take this all in stride is something else. And it would be really tough to blame him if he were to just lump everyone in with the few people who can poison the reputation of a fan base.
It was also impressive for Subban to see this situation as something bigger than himself and bigger than the rivalry.
“You know what the funny thing is, Subban continued, “is that we get stronger as a league, you see how people come together, and it’s great. And it’s not just about me, the NHL has tons of players from different backgrounds, from different places around the world, and that’s what makes this league so special, and that’s what makes sports so special, it brings everybody together.”
“Class” is a buzzword that often comes up during series like these between heated rivals. Usually, however, it’s one fan base accusing the other fan base of being classless. In this scenario, though, Subban’s remarks are the definition of class. His vision and the thought process he eloquently voiced Saturday — despite all that has gone on — are worthy of a standing ovation, even from Bruins fans.