Friday, February 12, 2010

P.K.Subban’s Learning Curve with the Canadiens


UPDATE: P.K. Subban will make his debut Friday vs. Philadelphia in place of the injured Andrei Markov!

In light of his recent call up by the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday, defenceman P.K. Subban knows that is just a step in the long process of being a full-time NHL player.

With both Andre Markov and Josh Gorges questionable for a pair of home-at-home games against the Philadelphia Flyers, the Canadiens made an insurance policy call for the 20-year-old.

Subban and the rest of the Hamilton Bulldogs had just arrived in Cleveland, after a five-hour bus ride, when he got the news.

“(Bulldogs coach) Guy Boucher pulled me aside when we got off the bus,” he said. “He said he wasn’t sure if I’d be playing or not, I’m not too sure still but I’m just happy to be here.”

Subban wasn’t exactly amongst strangers upon entering the Canadiens dressing room. Several players on the team’s current roster either started the season in Hamilton or were sent down at some point.

“I’m already learning,” he said watching how the Canadiens prepare for a game. “Everything’s learning and if the team needs me tonight, I’ll be ready.

“My mindset, when I got sent down in September, was to get better and improve. I’ve played 50 games in the AHL now, and I’ve learned a lot”

Subban emphasized how life in the pros, away from the rink, is also part of the learning experience, giving high praise to Boucher, his coaching staff and his Bulldogs teammates for their work to get him in the right direction.

“Becoming a pro means living on your own, and being responsible,” he said noting he no longer has the benefit of a billet, like he did in the OHL. “I’m becoming a man now.”

A third-round pick by Montreal in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, Subban was third in Bulldogs scoring with 39 points (11-28-39) and a +29 plus/minus rating. Seven of his goals were scored on the power play. Subban is also third amongst AHL defensemen for points.

“P.K. has performed well in the AHL. His stats speak highly and he got the call,” said Canadiens coach Jacques Martin. “He’s adjusting and learning the pro game down there and he’s responded well.”

“We’re very happy,” added Canadiens GM coach Pierre Gauthier.“He’s growing as a person and a player. He’s going to be an exciting, and very good player in the NHL” 

Subban also knows understands his pre-Olympic call up, and where he stands with the Canadiens.

“The focus has to be on the team,” he said. “We’re so close to making the playoffs with 20 games to go, and that’s the most important thing. The team’s best interest has to be winning. It has to be that. It can’t be anything else.

“It’s about getting mature and learning things on and off the ice,” he said. “You have to be a sponge and accept that information, and if you don’t then maybe I don’t get this opportunity.”

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