Where were you and what were you doing on June 29th, 2016? That’s when the Montreal Canadiens and Nashville Predators shocked the hockey world when they complete THE trade. Fan favourite P.K. Subban was traded for perennial All-Star defenseman Shea Weber, one for one.
They were numerous around Montreal who wanted to hang then GM Marc Bergevin for daring trading their favourite player. Many threatened to cheer for another team. Someone even purchased a full page ad in the local newspaper to show his dissatisfaction! Social media became toxic for a long, long time and some members of the media and fans have had it against Bergevin and the organisation since then. It got to the point where they got characterized as “Subbanistas”, a derogative nickname for those filled with constant revenge and negativity due to the trade.
“We have yet to move on to something else? Fans are still disappointed? They never saw Weber play? No but he played in 2010, in 2014… No one watched the Olympics apparently. It’s one of the best defensemen for another one.” ~ M-E Vlasic
It didn’t take long for many fans to realize who Shea Weber was and what he represented to a hockey team. To their credit, a vast majority of fans and media have since changed their tune since then, and while some still have a soft spot for PK, they are able to recognize that the Canadiens got the best in that trade. A few others, unfortunately, cannot fantom the idea of having overreacted and are still pretending to be right…
By the numbers
With Weber likely forced to retire, here’s what he’s done for the Canadiens since the trade, comparatively to his counterpart. It is important to note that Nashville has since traded Subban to the New Jersey Devils at a fraction of the cost they paid to acquire him. Weber came with a cap hit of $7.86 million while Subban’s was $9 million. It’s important to note that in the event the Canadiens’ captain retires, it’s Nashville that will be penalized with the cap recapture penalty.
Marc Bergevin was one of the General Managers who has completed the most trades during his tenure in Montreal and the consensus around the league is that he hasn’t lost many. In fact, he’s won most of his big trades. When asked, last year, which trade he felt was his best, his answer was the Weber acquisition.
For years, Subban fans claimed that the Preds got the best because they reached the Stanley Cup finals. They can’t use that anymore as Weber captained his team to the finals last season as well.
Subban is scheduled to become a UFA at the end of this season. As the Devils were visiting the Canadiens in Montreal a few days ago, the media expectedly jumped all over him. He is, after all, a delight for reporters with juicy quotes. He’s also a very charismatic character.
The focus around the fan base on social media quickly became the question if the Canadiens should try to bring him back now that Bergevin isn’t in Montreal anymore, to “replace” the loss of Weber. And members of the media, of course, didn’t hesitate to ask him the question if he would consider a return to the Habs.
In my humble opinion, the Canadiens have spent years establishing a culture under the leadership of Weber. While Subban seems to have matured since the trade, he remains a controversial player and one should consider if it’s worth the risk of undoing the foundation built by the Habs’ captain all those years. Further, Subban is not the shadow of his old self, averaging around 0.33 points per game since joining the Devils. And as he’s far from being a shut down defenseman, he would be more detrimental than helpful, in my humble opinion. It’s time to look ahead, not in the past, when it comes to this team.
Organizational Analysis by Bob Trask