P.K. Subban grew up in Canada and never lived in the United States. So when he was traded from the Montreal Canadiens to the Nashville Predators last summer, some of his countrymen didn’t know what to make of his future. Not only was he going to the United States, but he was also going to the South.
As a black man.
“When I was moving to the States, a lot of Canadiens were (asking), ‘How do you feel about that?’ I’m like, ‘What are you guys talking about? What’s going to happen going down there? Is World War III going to start?’” Subban said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand it. I have to be honest with you: It’s been an amazing experience, not just for me, but for my family and for my friends. It’s been almost probably too good of an experience. I can’t keep them away. They’re up here every weekend, they want to hang out, they want to go to Broadway, they want to go to these restaurants – they love this stuff. For me, I love it here. The people are extremely nice, the organization has been great, it’s just been a really, really fun time.
“It was a bit of an adjustment at the start because it’s just different,” Subban continued. “You get into a routine and you live in a different city and you’ve played for a different team and organization and you have friends that you’ve built over the years. I was drafted in 2007 and I’ve been going to Montreal since then. I had friends for over 12 years in Montreal. So I’ve made new friends and started to build new relationships here. I love it. I love it. I’ve had no issues here.”
Subban, 27, is one of the few black players in the NHL. It’s a topic he discussed often and doesn’t shy away from.
“Well, I think that’s part of having a successful career,” he said. “I put the onus on myself. At the end of the day, you’re going to be remembered for what you accomplished. People may talk about the fact that you’re one of the few black players that have played the game, but if you don’t have an impact on the game, I don’t think it really matters. The most important thing for me is coming out and having an impact on every game in a positive way. I want to be remembered as one of the best defenseman to ever play the game. I think that my first six years are positive years. I had great years in Montreal. I haven’t won a Stanley Cup yet or an Eastern Conference Championship or anything like that, but individually, I did have some success and luck in terms of All-Star games and Norris Trophies and stuff like that. But you’re going to be defined on if you’ve won, and I haven’t won anything yet. I’m hoping to do that in Nashville, but when I look at the way my career has gone in the first six years, I have to be positive and expect that they can get better for the next six.”
Subban played for the Canadiens from 2009-16. He had 50+ points in each of his final three seasons there but never led Montreal to a Stanley Cup. Brandon Tierney feels that Subban was unfairly made the scapegoat for Montreal’s playoff shortcomings.
“It seemed that I was always under the microscope from the very first game that I ever played there,” Subban said. “Just like any major city, whether it’s the Dallas Cowboys, whether it’s the Patriots, whether it’s the New York Yankees, when you play in those markets, you’re going to be under a microscope. And when you’re the highest-paid player and maybe the player that garners a lot of attention, when things don’t work out, you’re definitely going to be in the spotlight, and when things go well, you’re going to be in the spotlight, too. So you got to take that. If I was the scapegoat, I probably think that was a little unfair, but that’s a part of the business. You guys know. You see that in sports all the time. The toughest thing probably leaving Montreal was making promises to my teammates and us having that general consensus that we could win a Cup there and then basically having to quit on that and rebuilding that with new teammates in Nashville. That’s one of the toughest things to do. But I can tell you right now I love my teammates right here. It’s hard hockey in the Western Conference and it’s a grind every night, and I’m telling you: I wouldn’t enjoy anything more than battling with those guys every night. We’re in a playoff spot now, so we just got to keep it going.”
Nashville (23-17-8) is third in the Central Division. The Predators host Columbus(32-11-4) on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET.
Subban also weighed in on this Friday’s All-Star Game, which will once again feature a 3-on-3 tournament. There will be one team from each of the four divisions, and there will be 11 players on each team.
“I think the guys loved the new format,” Subban said. “It was more open, there was more room out there to make plays, to have fun. I think it was more exciting for the fans and it wasn’t too taxing on the players. I think guys really enjoyed it. The one thing you have to remember as players is we can complain about things, but when we get on the ice, it’s competitive. We’re always playing for something, and I think that last year you saw that. It was really, really exciting. It was a really successful game, and I think it’s going to be even better this year in L.A. That’s why I’m so happy to be a part of it.”