The experience at this year’s World Junior Championship was arguably more valuable to P.K. Subban than anyone else skating in the tournament. No player aside from John Tavares garnered more attention (from NHL brass, media, and fans), and under immense pressure, and the highest of expectations, Subban performed better than he ever has in his career. He was expected to contribute offensively and simplify his game in Canada’s third defense pairing. Instead he emerged as a top leader on the team (not just statistically) and was Canada’s best defenseman by a country mile.
So when you hear Bob Mackenzie and Pierre McGuire gush about how much the Canadiens and their fans are going to appreciate him, there’s plenty of justification for it. It seems he’s a player made for the pressure cooker that is the Montreal Canadiens.
We learned a few things about P.K Subban over the last couple of weeks:
He’s a team player, to the core. He’s selfless, and his energy and enthusiasm are contagious.
He’s emotionally invested in the game itself, and never takes his position, or anything else he’s been given, for granted.
He’s a big-game player. If the rest of the tournament didn’t prove that his very first shift in the finals did.
He’s highly skilled, and seemingly more prepared
for professional hockey than originally anticipated. In fact he’s more NHL-ready than a couple of other prospects in the system that were rated (and drafted) ahead of him going into this season.
And you think the confidence level was high before? His candidness in front of the entire Canadian media shows how unfazed he is by external pressure. He craves the spotlight, and having been drafted by the Habs, that’s a quality that will likely do him more good than it will bad.
John Tavares often accused Subban of trying too hard, whether it be on the ice or off it, in front of cameras, or joking around with the guys. You’ll never question Subban’s work ethic, and those qualities Tavares teases him about inevitably annoy his opponents and give him the edge.
Subban will return to the Belleville Bulls brimming with the pride of being named one of Canada’s best, after a performance on the biggest stage he’s ever graced. Chances are he’ll join Hamilton for a playoff run, and at that point the NHL is only a phone call away. P.K. will be there sooner than later.