Wow. Shocked. Stunned. Those were just some emotions that crossed my mind on a typical drive home from work on a sunny Wednesday afternoon. Who would’ve thought? I sure didn’t. Never in my right mind did I believe that PK Subban, the same PK Subban that went to Boston in Game 7 back in the 2014 playoffs and “took it all away from them”, would ever be traded from my beloved Habs. He wasn’t traded back then, when he held out of the Habs first 6 games in the lockout shortened 2013 season, nor was he traded when he was seconds away from arbitration after the 2015 season. So why now, did the Montreal Canadiens and Marc Bergevin decided to trade an idol to so many Canadiens fans?
As the saying goes, where there is smoke, there is fire. For PK Subban’s entire tenure with the Canadiens, for as much greatness and excitement he brought to the city of Montreal and their fans, there was always an unneeded attention that came with it. There were rumblings of locker room issues, issues with teammates, issues with the Captain Max Pacioretty, and issues with management, most notably with head coach Michel Therrien. Whether these rumours were true or not, it was clear that management did not tolerate off ice issues with their players of any sort. Take for example, the night defensemen Nathan Beaulieu and AHL call up Christian Thomas were caught on video partying in Carolina after a lost. Thomas was immediately dealt days later for Lucas Lessio and Beaulieu was healthy scratched by Therrien. It is the history of the Montreal Canadiens, the name, the brand, that no one, no player is bigger than the team. But this was PK Subban, one of the designated leaders of the Canadiens, he was an Assistant Captain and a icon to the community. He bled bleu, blanc et rouge. A Toronto boy that grew up loving the Montreal Canadiens. For all the troubles that 2016 Hart Trophy winner Patrick Kane has done in the past, the Blackhawks have never conjure the idea of trading their superstar forward.
“It’s always going to be like that for me. Montreal’s going to be home. Because all the relationships that I built here … I love Montreal. I’ve always loved the city. When it really comes down to it I never envisioned myself playing for any other team other than the Montreal Canadiens.” – PK Subban
Marc Bergevin has tried to twist in his own narrative that this trade was purely a hockey trade, that in his mind, one for one, for the present and the future, that Shea Weber is better than PK Subban.
“Instant credibility, as far as his credentials. He’s won two Olympic gold medals and he’s a guy who, like Carey Price, has a presence that right away brings credibility to your team. He’ll be a great complement to our captain, Max Pacioretty, and to our leadership group. Shea’s a big man and he’s hard to play against. If you’re lined up against Shea Weber, nothing’s going to come easy. To me, that’s something that we missed last season.” – Marc Bergevin
That is hard to believe. Considering last year, Subban put up the same number of points as Weber in 10 fewer games. PK also has a Norris Trophy attached to his name, one that has eluded Weber this far in his career. Subban is also 3 years younger and unlike Weber, is not locked in contract until the age of 40. So why did Bergevin and the Canadiens made this trade? It was clear that there have been an ongoing rift between player and head coach since the day Therrien was hired. The toping on the cake was the night after Subban’s infamous turnover in Colorado that led to an Avalanche win. Therrien called out his star player and called it an “individualistic” play. As someone who plays sports, being called selfish and individualistic, is one of the worst description one could be characterized. This wasn’t the first time the Habs had decided to side with their head coach over a star player, does anybody remember Patrick Roy and Mario Tremblay? Don’t get me wrong, Shea Weber is a star player in the NHL and a 2 time Olympic champion. And as strangely as it sound, I believe Weber is a better fit to Michel Therrien’s system and style of hockey. The dump and chase, hard hitting, we are a “grinding team” is the epitome of Shea Weber’s game. But my question is, is Michel Therrien’s style of hockey a fit in today’s NHL? We have seen in the past that all it took was an MVP season from Carey Price to cover all our defensive mislapses and offensive inability. And without Price, Therrien got the Habs playing in their worst stretch in franchise history. This is the same Therrien that couldn’t win with a pre-concussion Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
As we inch closer to the beginning of the 2016-17 NHL Season, another chapter in Montreal Canadiens’ hockey, a chapter without PK Subban, I can only hope for Marc Bergevin’s and Michel Therrien’s sake, that Shea Weber brings to Montreal the most coveted prize in hockey, the Stanley Cup. Because if PK Subban and the Nashville Predators wins the Stanley Cup, lookout Montreal, there could be a riot in Montreal and it wouldn’t be for celebratory reasons.