The Canadiens and restricted free-agent defenceman P.K. Subban, unable to reach a contract agreement, went into a salary-arbitration hearing at 9 a.m. Friday in Toronto. The hearing wrapped up at 1 p.m.
Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin declined to comment to reporters in Toronto after the hearing ended, stating simply: “I have nothing to say.”
Subban’s agent, Don Meehan, told Sportsnet that there are no plans to continue negotiating a long-term deal for the defenceman before the arbitrator’s decision is made.
On Wednesday, the Canadiens submitted a one-year offer of $5.25 million, while Subban and his agent asked for $8.5 million. The two sides were unable to reach a deal before Friday’s hearing.
Arbitrator Elizabeth Neumeier of Boston can choose one of the two salary figures, but can also decide on a number anywhere between the two. Neumeir’s decision must be made by Sunday afternoon and the two sides are free to continue negotiations before then.
After the hearing ended, Subban told Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston the arbitrator will decide his contract for next season, saying: “We have to live with those decisions.”
Subban added: “It’s been an educational process for me.”
He also told The Canadian Press: “There’s dialogue and discussion and decisions were made today in relations to both of our positions and ultimately we have to live with those decisions and move on from here. I know that obviously the arbitration process is over. It is in the hands of the arbitrator now.”
The 25-year-old Subban, who won the Norris Trophy two seasons ago as the NHL’s top defenceman, earned $3.75 million last season when he posted 10-43-53 totals in 82 regular-season games and had 5-9-14 totals in 17 playoff games.
“At the end of the day, it’s been an educational process for me, and I’ll continue to say that because it has been,” Subban told reporters in Toronto. “I’ve learned a lot. Like I said, I’m just excited now to continue to move forward, and that’s all you can do from here is just move forward, move on and get ready for the season.”
When asked if he would still be open to negotiating a long-term deal with the Canadiens, Subban said: “I think that’s kind of a discussion for a later date. It’s not a discussion for today, obviously.”
Tweeted TSN’s Bob McKenzie after the arbitration hearing ended: “My uneducated opinion from afar: MTL likes, maybe really likes, Subban but doesn’t LOVE him. And you have to LOVE someone at 8 x $8-9M+ per.”
In a later tweet, McKenzie added: “More importantly, I guess, IF Subban doesn’t feel the love from MTL, how eager is he to re-up there for eight years? Gonna be interesting.”
(Photo by Peter McCabe/The Gazette)