Pernell-Karl Subban. What a guy. Really, you either love him or you hate him because there’s no in between.
They loved him in Montreal. Well, the fans did anyway. When he arrived in the city in 2009, he decided that since he was there, he was going to make the place his home, and this meant learning French. For a proud culture and a proud people who are used to having their language ignored and often butchered by celebrities (particularly athletes), the fact that P.K. actually made an effort to learn and speak French at important events was huge. He wasn’t perfect, but nobody expected that.
Then he made a huge pledge to the beloved children’s hospital. How can you not love a guy who wants to help sick children? I mean, the man hosted a surprise Christmas party for the young patients, showing up in fuzzy footie pajamas to do face painting, stuff teddy bears, and eat candy with the young’uns. How can you not love a guy like that?
Because he has an annoying side too, as lots and lots and LOTS of people – particularly in sports management – will tell you. Kind of like an irritating little brother of the worst kind, his never-ending showmanship has grated on the nerves of more than one of his coworkers. And his opponents. We all know that Sidney Crosby has vented his frustration with Subban more than once, slamming P.K.’s head onto the ice and jeering about bad breath. Pittsburgh fans as a whole have a hate-on for Subban, hanging on to their shock and bitterness over Jordan Staal’s 2010 injury. The Penn Nation will never forget.
Illustrating my point that you either love him or you hate him, the following 10 names are the ones who either fiercely adore P.K. Subban and will stand by him no matter what, and those who drip with disdain and disgust every time his name comes up. Which camp are you?
15 Loves Him: Georges Laraque
It was Laraque who took Subban with him to Haiti in 2011, an experience that stayed with Subban and which he credited as inspiring him to form his foundation to help the Montreal Children’s Hospital. And even though P.K. himself said that losing the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 2016 didn’t bother him, his former teammate claimed that by voting for Pacioretty, the Habs were showing that they were jealous of P.K. He didn’t outright say that there was hostility in the locker room, but he said the team didn’t appreciate the defenseman’s leadership as much as they should, and that he wouldn’t be surprised if the Habs traded P.K.
And then they did.
Laraque also Tweeted a meme when the Canadiens fired head coach Michael Therrien, one that screamed snark and disdain. There’s nothing like the satisfaction your bestie feels when karma hits someone who’s hurt your bro.
14 Hates Him: Marc Bergevin
How do we know that Bergevin hates Subban? Oh, let me count the ways. First, we have the fact that the GM called Subban’s on-ice celebrations a “distraction” and banned P.K. and Price’s signature triple-low-five. Many people believe he flat out lied when he said at the draft that he wasn’t looking to trade Subban, and it’s pretty easy to believe.
The GM didn’t even try to hide the fact that he was talked about Subban. These comments are so thinly veiled, you can read P.K.’s name through the cellophane. I’m pretty sure that a guy who celebrates a goal the way Subban does would have an equally emotional reaction to a loss. That’s a no-brainer.
13 Loves Him: Jeremy Roenick
There are a lot of commentators, analysts, and journalists out there who make no bones about the fact that Subban is not their kind of player/personality. Not Jeremy Roenick though. The former player and open-minded, open-mouthed fan favorite has spoken his mind about the Subban haters on more than one occasion. Back in January of 2015 he was quoted as saying that the NHL needs more players like Subban and Ovechkin who are “outlandish” but “still respectful,” giving life to an otherwise bland, straight-laced organization.
Roenick praises P.K. because he talks the talk, but also walks the walk; he plays the game as passionately as he talks about it. Rather than complaining that Subban is a clown, Roenick says he has they kind of electric personality and that there should be more players like him. Jeremy and P.K. are two electric peas in a pod.
12 Hates Him: Sidney Crosby
This one's still fresh in our minds and if the 2017 Stanley Cup Final revealed anything, it's the fact that P.K. Subban isn't the kind of player Crosby seems to like, or respect. Throughout the finals, Subban did all he could to get on Sid The Kid's nerves and of course there was the whole 'Listerinegate' where Subban and Crosby were jawing on the ice and after the game, Subban said Crosby claimed his breath smelled. Crosby was having none of it, refusing to join in on the joke, saying "Yeah, he made that up. I didn't say that," Crosby said, per ESPN.com. Well, judging by Crosby's tone, he definitely wasn't amused by P.K.'s antics and let out his anger in Game 5 by getting Subban to the ice and taking several shots at his head. It's hard to believe these two had to shake hands after the series was over.
11 Loves Him: Dale Weise
Now one of the Philadelphia Flyers’ forwards, Weise was previously a Canadien during the P.K.-Subban-celebratory-low-five era. P.K. even referred to Weise on Twitter as his best friend, lamenting that his buddy had been traded (back at the 2016 deadline), and Weise responded with “Gonna miss you.”
While admitting that his views were biased due to his friendship with Subban, Weise blasted Bergevin and Canadiens management for treating and trading Subban the way they did. P.K. was just used as a scapegoat, Weise said in an interview; he was never a distraction and in fact was more of a “team first” thinker than anyone gave him credit for. Bergevin’s claim that the team needed leadership was just an excuse.
If anybody would know, it’s Weise. Way to have your friend’s back, Dale. Respect.
10 Hates Him: Max Pacioretty
Ever since he was given the captaincy in 2015, rumors have flown about Pacioretty and Subban being at odds. Even when Pacioretty was asked to commend on the alleged bad blood, he didn’t exactly answer the question, instead describing how P.K. plays with his son and talks to his wife. That’s not super convincing.
Think about it. That annoyed, patronizing look he gave P.K. in the locker room when the blue liner was jumping around, cussing, announcing the game’s lineup. The shoving and apparent yelling that happened during practice. How he told a reporter that he and the team felt that P.K. thought he was “bigger” than them, and he allegedly worked to turn the team against Subban. These are the actions of someone who’s pretty ticked off. Someone with an annoying sibling they want to be rid of. Someone who’s jealous. And yet he claims he had no problems with P.K. Sorry, Pach, but we don’t buy it.
9 Loves Him: Chef Antonio Park
At this point, Antonio is basically an honorary Canadien. He owns several upscale restaurants in Montreal that are constantly visited by the city’s hockey players. The two have next to nothing in common, but after meeting at the Kaizen Sushi Bar, they became great friends and the rest of the team followed as he opened his own steakhouse, Park. Eventually, he even began helping with individual players’ nutrition programs.
While living in Toronto and acting as a judge on “Chopped Canada,” Subban and Park were roomies. He’s even cooked for the whole Subban family in their home! The two have such a special bromance that Park is even able to talk to P.K. and call him out when he’s not being serious enough, like before he signed his eight-year, $72 million contract before the 2014-15 season.
In an interview with the Montreal Gazette, Park was said to be “very smart, confident and a little cocky.” Eye roll. We get it!
8 Hates Him: Michel Therrien
Okay, here we go. He’s called Subban “selfish,” shut down the iconic triple-low-fives because they weren’t respectful, and flat out denied he was imploring his GM to trade Subban. Among other things, after blaming P.K. for singlehandedly losing that fateful game against the Avalanche, fans expected (and some insisted) that Therrien would be fired ASAP. But he wasn’t, and the hating continued.
He was very good at schmoozing and pandering to the media, insisting that he and P.K. were the best of pals, drinking buddies, trivia partners, carpooling it up, as besties do. But none of us bought this. As soon as the word “friends” was out of his mouth, he was back to criticizing and arguing with his star player. Nobody really believed he hadn’t been advocating for a Subban trade, but I’d even bet he’d been dreaming about it since the day he took over as head coach in 2012, having spent the last two years criticizing P.K. as an analyst on RDS.
7 Loves Him: Andrei Markov
Sixteen years with the Habs means that Markov has made some pretty good friends, and one of them is definitely P.K. Subban. After the Nashville trade news hit the fan, Markov was just as surprised as anyone and defended his buddy by saying “He’s a special person.” He said Subban was just that kind of guy who has a lot of energy and likes to laugh; he wasn’t a distraction and there wasn’t any locker room drama, despite Marc Bergevin’s hints.
Would you invite a “distraction” to your wedding? According to Twitter and YouTube, Markov didn’t have a problem with it. Subban posted a pic with Andrei and his gorgeous bride Sonya Sonechka on their wedding day in Moscow this summer, and all of them are beaming. The bromance is real.
6 Hates Him: Mark Stone
You’d hate someone who roughed you up so badly that you broke a bone, right? If not hate, you’d carry a pretty serious grudge. So you can’t blame the Senators’ Mark Stone for the hostility he feels for Subban. In an April 2015 game against the Sens, P.K. and Stone both approached Montreal’s net in anticipation of a shot on net, when P.K. landed a cheap slash on Stone’s wrist. Stone immediately fell to the ice and writhed in pain before leaving the ice entirely. Subban was given a five-minute major penalty and game misconduct, but didn’t end up facing suspension as some thought he would.
Stone’s right wrist was diagnosed with a microfracture, but he didn’t actually miss any games during those playoffs. He was deservedly angry over the incident, even saying that Subban threatened him before making the obviously deliberate hit. I’d be angry too if a guy hit my money-making hands with a stick.
5 Loves Him: Steven Stamkos
These guys have been buds since childhood, back when they were teammates playing for the North York Canadiens novice AAA team. Just look at this photo and tell me they aren’t the cutest pair of future terror-on-professional-ice-s that you’ve ever seen. As one writer says, the only thing these guys are missing is some “sweet ass matching rings.” I don’t know about you, but I’d love to see that.
They won the Coronation Cup for the Greater Toronto Area in 1999… And then the two met again in the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs. Nobody was sure what to expect from two old pals who were suddenly professional rivals, and there was a lot of talk about their handshake after Game 5. Despite hopes of a same-team reunion, the same day that it was announced that Subban would be joining the Nashville Predators, Stamkos announced he was signing with the Bolts again. Coincidence? Hmm.
4 Hates Him: Mike Milbury
Ah yes, the infamous “clown” comment. Coming from a former-player-turned-coach-turned-GM-turned-broadcaster who is well known for his ridiculous antics. Antics that have included beating a fan with a shoe (A SHOE!), labeling the new no-fighting rule as “pansification,” and making incredulously ridiculous trade decisions. So, when he said that Subban should be serious and stop clowning around, we probably shouldn’t have been surprised. It was kind of hard to believe, though, especially since the clowning/dancing he was referring to occurred during warmup time. Warmup!
Needless to say, Nashville was beyond unimpressed, and the backlash was fierce. Nobody calls their boy a clown! They took to social media, made awesome posters, and generally flouted their disgust. And then when Milbury claimed that Subban deserved it when Crosby slammed his head on the ice repeatedly during a game in June of this year, fans wanted his Milbury’s head on a platter. What the heck does this guy have against Subban?
3 Loves Him: 9,000 families at the Montreal Children’s Hospital
In 2015, P.K. pledged to raise $10 million dollars for the Montreal Children’s Hospital, the “biggest philanthropic commitment by a sports figure in Canadian history.” To reassure the patients and families at the hospital that his financial and moral support would continue even after his move to Tennessee, P.K. wrote a heartfelt letter and recorded a video to comfort the kids and their loved ones. Watch it at your own risk. You'll cry.
The foundation raised $1.4 million in its first year, prompting the Governor General of Canada to award him with the Meritorious Service Decoration. Over 9,000 families have been given financial assistance, crucial medical equipment has been purchased, and countless children’s spirits have been raised. I’d say the parents of those 9,000 families say a prayer for P.K. Subban every night.
2 Hates Him: Certain Boston Twitter Users
After the Montreal Canadiens won a 2014 playoff game against the Boston Bruins, the Twitterverse was not a pleasant place. There were so many racist, offensive tweets about the “n----” from Montreal that the n-word was actually trending in Boston; there were 17,000 tweets where the n-word and Subban’s name were both used. Now, some of those were outraged responses and whatnot, but still. That’s a whole lotta hate. And particularly ironic since P.K.’s brother, Malcolm, was drafted by the Bruins in 2012.
There was also an issue in April of this year where a St. Louis Blues’ fan typed a nasty tweet, calling Subban “the f---ing black guy.” And when the official Blues account denounced the blatant racism, the fan taunted them even more. It seems there’s more than one hateful person out there who still believes the ridiculous notion that hockey is only for old white men.
1 Loves Him: Predators Fans
They’ve only been in existence since 1998, but the Nashville Predators had never made it to the Stanley Cup finals, although not for lack of talent or heart. And then came P.K. Subban.
As pretty much everyone now knows, the Preds played all the way into the finals where they suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Penguins in Game 6. The city of Nashville had never experienced anything like it, and the fans were wild with excitement! They may have initially been disappointed to lose Shea Weber, but those emotions did a quick 180 once the Stanley Cup was within reach (check out all these Tweets showing pics of the downtown crowds before the first Finals game).
And the fans didn’t ignore the fact that P.K. helped them get there. When Mike Milbury called him a clown, Smashville went insane, tweeting snarky comebacks at Milbury and bringing colorful signs to cheer on their new favorite ice dancer at games. His celebrations and dancing might have elicited sneers in Montreal, but he felt the love in Nashville.