You’ve got to expect celebrities to act up a bit, right? Fame makes people do stupid things, so it shouldn’t be a surprise when a celeb does something sketchy. It’s harder to swallow, though, when a famous athlete becomes known for his philanthropic commitments and his involvement in the community is suddenly in the news for less-than-stellar reasons. We don’t want to believe that our greatest heroes are evil. Or even just human.
P.K. Subban isn’t exactly an infamous athlete. If you Google him, you won’t find any scandalous sex tapes or tales of law-bending activity. He works hard at maintaining a clean image, but he does have several eye-rolling, cringe worthy incidents that he and the fans wish had never happened. He's nowhere near the likes of Rick Tocchet or Mike Danton. There’s no huge scandal out there waiting to be exposed. Nashville’s mouthy blueliner is simply known to be loud, obnoxious, and annoying. And that's pretty much it.
It’s easy to see why the masses love P.K., though. I mean, he’s still making good on his promises to the Montreal children’s hospital, even after being sent to Nashville, which makes it harder to take his less-admirable behavior seriously.
He’s a dedicated hockey player, there’s no denying that, but his emotional reactions to events, players, etc., haven’t exactly painted him in the greatest light. It might seem like he’s dying to be in the spotlight all the time, but this list proves that there is more than one incident that he’d like to sweep under the rug and have us look the other way.
15 2014 Olympic Snub
The year after he won the Norris Trophy, in the middle of a season that a saw him make 125 blocks at even strength, Subban joined the Canadian Olympic team and sent to Sochi in 2014. They added him to the roster, but that may have been a mostly symbolic gesture since he only played in one game during the whole tournament. And in that one game, he was on ice for barely over 11 minutes. It seems that Norris win and the fact that he was one of the best defensive players in the entire National Hockey League, didn’t mean squat.
Some say it was probably because of his alleged cocky attitude. Some even say it was blatant racism. Mike Babcock made no bones about the fact that he didn’t trust Subban, and Ken Hitchcock seems to have thought Subban’s ego would be a problem. Subban himself, though, tried to brush off the snub: “People should be praising Mike Babcock because he just won us a gold medal. I got nothing but praise for him, the coaching staff, the management staff and the players that participated. I don't see any negative coming out of this really.”
14 Missing Part of 2013 Season To Contract Holdout
This seemed like a petty move. He claimed, in fact, to not want to be a distraction from the game his teammates were playing without him, and yet he didn’t exactly bang on any doors and demand to settle things so he could get back on the ice. Fans weren’t happy with his absence on the ice; he was called selfish and not worth the money he’d be given anyway. Rumors of a trade were floated around. It wasn’t a good scene.
But after turning down the Habs’ 2012 offer of $5.5 million, he eventually caved early in 2013 and agreed to a $5.75 million, two-year deal. P.K. said he was excited things were settled and was eager to get back on the ice. His teammates, though, seemed less enthused. One headline read “No celebrating in dressing room over Subban signing,” and Josh Gorges said, “To be honest, I’m glad we don’t have to talk about it anymore.” He’s not the only one.
13 Being compared to Shea Weber
Given the shock everyone felt when Subban was traded for Weber, it’s not really a surprise that the comparisons of their play are constant. They switched teams, play exactly the same position, and came from cities and fan bases who adored them. Obviously, the fans are going to be slightly bitter and do their fair share of comparing and complaining.
The Preds made it to the Stanley Cup Final this year: point Subban. P.K. was injured and out for 16 games: point Weber. The headlines scream “Advantage Montreal Canadiens,” but also “It’s Clear the Preds Won the Subban Trade.” Who can tell which is actually true? Who cares. From P.K.’s point of view, and probably Weber’s – and probably every other hockey fan who isn’t rooting for either Nashville or Montreal – it’s time to stop comparing!
12 Throwing a puck at a baby
It was after an open practice that the Habs started tossing souvenir pucks into the crowd, fans jumping and scrambling to grab them so they can brag to all their friends. Unfortunately, after being fumbled by two or three such eager fans, the puck fell smack onto the head of a one-month-old infant. The child was knocked unconscious and sent to the hospital where she was monitored for a concussion. Uh oh.
It turns out that it was P.K. who threw that particular puck, and when he found out about it, he contacted the family to apologize. He then met with baby Beatrice, her mother, father, two brothers, and sister to express his concern in person. The family didn’t hold anything against him and were thrilled at the meeting. Subban, I’m sure, was thrilled to not have to face any charges.
11 Racist Tweets Towards Him
In May of 2012 when Montreal won a game against Boston, an unhappy Bruins fans made an unsavory comment on Twitter. “That stupid n----r doesn’t belong in hockey.” In fact, the n-word was trending so hard that night, there were over 17,000 tweets about it. Although some of those were probably opposing the racism, they still contributed to the snowballing effect.
Nobody has more reason to be ticked off and offended than Subban, and yet, he took the high road. He praised the Bruins franchise, the fans, and their passion, then defended all the fans who did not indulge in such mean-spirited and cowardly acts. And he somehow managed to address the situation without dwelling on those who wrote the tweets, focusing instead on all the great hockey lovers who did not.
While I’m sure P.K. doesn’t want us to forget his mature attitude here, he’d probably rather we forget the issue and move on with our lives, as he did.
10 Photo in front of Gentlemen's Club
This one is a total “oopsie, my bad.” P.K. and some friends were out shopping on Rue Sainte-Catherine in Montreal one day when two young fans stopping him and asked for a photo. Being a decent guy, and being in public, he cheerfully agrees and turns to pose with the young boy and girl as the pic was snapped. As one does.
Once the photo was tweeted later, though, people started noticing what was in the background. It seems the superstar defenseman had cozied up to the kids while standing in front of a strip club. Whoops! So, the kids will have something valuable to laugh about for years, while Subban gets to chuckle and turn red every time it’s brought up. This probably wasn’t the greatest example of the self-awareness or presence of mind you’d expect Subban to have at game time.
9 Being left off the World Cup Roster
We’ve already talked about how he was underused and underappreciated during the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. But he WAS there and his team DID bring home a gold medal. When the 2016 World Cup roster was announced, he’d already won the Norris Trophy, was twice named to the First NHL All-Star Team, and had solidified his reputation as one of the best defensemen in the league.
Seeing his great countrymen Sidney Crosby, Brad Marchand, and (ironically) Shea Weber take to the ice that year and win the gold without him had to hurt. Not one to express bitterness in public, of course, Subban simply said he’d “let his body of work speak for itself.” I wonder what he says to his friends, though.
8 Skipping the Canadiens' Christmas Party
Think about it. If you miss the office Christmas party, you better have a darn good reason. And if you don’t have a satisfactory reason, you’re going to be called a Grinch, a snob, a wallflower, a total loser, or all of the above. Subban was apparently the only one not at the party that year (2015). As Tony Mariano said on his show, maybe he was at the Children’s Hospital? We don’t know. You’d think, though, that if his reason were as clear and respectable as having to be at the hospital instead, that he’d admit it. As it is, all we know is that he was MIA.
Mariano even sent Subban a text in January asking about the party but didn’t receive a reply. Really makes you wonder. Maybe it has something to do with the next item on this list…
7 Pacioretty feud rumors
There have been suspicions of bad blood ever since Pacioretty was voted team captain, and there’ve been several incidents to fuel these rumors. In a game against Pittsburg, Subban scored for the first time in 33 games, and it was the only goal of the game for Montreal. “I couldn’t give a s--t about my f---g first goal in however long. It’s not my f----g job to score goals,” while he was standing next to Pacioretty. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t, but it sure looks like a dig at Pacioretty! Another incident, captured on video of course, showed P.K. and Pacioretty getting into it during a practice. Shoving and shouting ensued, yada yada.
And there was the what-the-heck-bro glare from the captain when Subban was jumping around the locker room announcing the starting lineup. The kind of look you’d give your little brother when he tells mom that he’s done all of his homework. But obviously, it doesn’t look good to be feuding with your teammate, let alone the team Captain. And so the boys have made a point to smile for cameras and speak carefully to the media. Yeah, we buy it.
6 Crosby's bad breath comment
Players often trash talk each other, or “chirp,” as Subban puts it. But I don’t think they usually comment on one another’s oral hygiene. Then again, who am I to know what’s said on the ice?
Back in June, Subban and Sidney Crosby exchanged a few words as they skated off ice once the game was over. Nobody could actually hear what was going on, but P.K. said that Crosby told him he had bad breath. “I don’t know why, because I used Listerine before the game.” Seems like a strange comment to make, even if the Penguins had just been crushed 5-1 by the Preds. In response to Subban’s claims, Crosby said that the Nashville defenseman was making things up and that P.K. just does this for the attention.
Granted, P.K. hasn’t been one to shy away from the spotlight, so it’s easy to believe Crosby over Subban here. Really, though, I’m sure both Crosby and Subban would like us all to just forget this pettiness ever happened.
5 Not Voted Team Captain for Montreal
Now, people don’t usually make enormous monetary donations to charitable causes simply for the perks it might bring. There are exceptions, I’m sure, but it’s generally true. So, when Subban pledged $10 million to the Montreal Children’s Hospital, it’s safe to say he wasn’t expecting it to clinch the team captaincy for him. But the club seemed annoyed that he made his donation on his own instead of through the Canadiens Foundation. Incidentally – or not so incidentally – Subban wasn’t given the team’s community award that year. Is this also related to why he didn’t get the captaincy? Hmm.
Now, P.K. often comes off as arrogant and immature, as his goal celebrations prove, but then he does things like help Dale Weise off the ice after being hit in the head. And he sure did have a love for the city and Canadiens’ franchise. The Habs voted for Pacioretty, though, and that was that. As Bergevin said, “we didn’t need to count twice.” Sorry P.K.
4 The Giveaway In Colorado
It was the 3rd game of a three game road trip, during a game against Avalanche, when P.K. lost the puck and Jarome Iginla was able to score, tying the game. Subban had been trying to avoid a check from Grigorenko when he lost control of the puck, and so it seems an honest blunder. “My feet came out from under me,” Subban said. “I didn’t really feel him, crossed over and lost an edge.” And that edge went to Colorado, who won the game 3-2 in overtime.
Coach Theiren didn’t hesitate to place the blame squarely where he thought it belonged. “We played a solid game and it’s disappointing that we lost because of an individual mistake.” Whoa now. That’s harsh, isn’t it? As Tony Mariano says, that’s basically code for “you’re not a team player and you made the wrong call.” Way to take the high road, Therrien.
3 Missing curfew, late for team meetings
Tony Mariano devoted some serious time on June 30, 2016, to discuss why he felt Subban had been traded to Nashville. He mentioned that Subban had missed curfew and team meetings on more than one occasion. It’s interesting that missing curfew would come up since Bergevin is quoted as saying that he values punctuality and P.K. had never let him down on that score. Also, soon after dismissing P.K., the Habs signed Russian winger Alexander Radulov, who is infamous for having missed curfew when playing for Nashville during a series against the Coyotes. Isn’t that just interesting.
P.K. is only 28 years old right now. Is it really surprising that a guy in his 20s – and a guy with significant financial resources at that – would like to be out and about at night? That he’d be irresponsible enough to be tardy for meetings and ignore a curfew? Nope, doesn’t seem like a stretch to me.
2 Hitting a kid with his slapshot
When Subban hit a shot so hard that it went into the crowd, hit a guys arm, and then bounced over and smacked a child in the head, everyone noticed. There’s footage of the little boy being carried out in his father’s arms, obviously in pain. Poor kid. Luckily, though, there was no serious damage inflicted.
In an effort to redeem himself, Subban tracked down the boy’s father so he could check in on the child. He apologized for the accident and invited the family to watch another game, after which he took the time to sign a puck for the kid. And not just any puck, the specific puck that P.K. had shot from the ice and hit young Thomas with. Nice save, P.K. Nice save.
1 Goal Celebrations/Embellishing
He’s gotten a lot of flack for his excited and dramatic celebrations after he scores a goal. It was pretty obvious that Bergevin wasn’t impressed with this kind of enthusiasm on the ice; he called it a “distraction.” Management for the Canadiens went so far as to ban P.K.’s signature triple low-five ritual with goalie Carey Price. Even the great Don Cherry has said that Subban’s celebrations can be “excessive” and “absolutely ridiculous.”
Since he’s been with Nashville, though, he’s been allowed to celebrate however he likes. His signature bow-and-arrow move was a regular occurrence in his recent season. In an interview, he defended himself by saying “I’m sorry, when I score a goal in the National Hockey League against the best players in the world, if I get excited and I want to show my emotions, I will.” I guess that’s his way of telling all of us to get over it.