Subban Homecoming: All Smoke And Mirrors

By JD Lagrange – The Montreal Canadiens have announced, out nowhere, that they will be having a special night to honour P.K. Subban, on January 12th. On their official press release, they even gave it a name: “P.K. Subban Homecoming”.

As a preface, I will admit that truthfully, I hesitated before writing this piece. I am, for the most part in all aspects of life, a very positive person. In every situation that I am faced with, I try to see both sides of the coin but mostly, I know that rarely, all is negative even in bad situations. But those who know me well also know that one of my mottos is that only dead fish swim with the flow. So I’ve never been afraid of being singled out, or being one of the few to think a certain way. I have lived long enough to know that sometimes, a majority simply means that all the fools are on the same side. Now I’m not saying that it’s the case here, please understand. But this is only one man’s opinion, no more. Yours is just as valid.

I don’t know what the Canadiens are trying to do here. I don’t know if they feel like they need to undo everything past management has done, or if they feel they’re missing out by trying to patch their relationship with some fans. But having a Subban night makes absolutely no sense. “Oh but he was electrifying”, some claim. Yes, that he was. He did cost a lot of games too but let’s not get into that. Why don’t we have an Alex Kovalev night while we’re at it? He sure was electrifying, if that’s the criteria to isolate and celebrate a player! Either way, it’s a publicity stunt. Something that you would expect the Ottawa Senators to do, like retiring Chris Neil’s jersey. Oops, they’re doing that! It doesn’t make sense and it raises questions.

Subban played 434 games in a Habs’ uniform. That ranks him 77th all time on the Canadiens list of players in history. That’s right… 77! Lars Eller and David Desharnais are ahead of him. So the criteria to have a special night can’t be the games played, right? The Norris Trophy? On a 41-games schedule? Is that what it is? As if the choice wasn’t laughable at the time (he was NOT the best all-around defenseman) we will honour him for half a season? Yeah, that doesn’t makes sense either.

Or perhaps is it because of his community work? He has, after all, pledged to raise $10 million for a hospital. He should definitely be commanded for doing that, a great gesture. I’ve always said it, P.K. has a great heart. But he certainly did make sure we knew about it by calling a big press conference with balloons and stringers. How many other NHL players have you seen doing that? Yet, most of them do in the Cities they play in. The result? Not a single one of his teammates showed up for the event. Not one. Why? Because every NHL star donates time and money to worthy causes without trying to be in the limelight, or get “credit” publicly.

So let’s honour individual spectacle, flash and dash, over a short, overrated career! Let’s ignore the fact that there were reasons why he was traded in the first place by giving him his special night, to show that we’re not bad guys in the eyes of some. Folks, the bar has been set by this new management team… and it is very attainable by anyone. Next, let’s have a night for Jeff Petry, who has played over 500 games in a Habs’ uniform!

I see it coming, some people will use this article and point of view to convince you that I’m racist. Those people will conveniently ignore that before the Leafs got him, I was hoping the Habs would get Wayne Simmonds, or that I was a fan of Georges Laraque during his Oilers’ days. They won’t know that Jarome Iginla is one of my all-time favourite players. They’ll ignore that two of my current favourite players are Seth Jones and Darnell Nurse. But I don’t like the Subban night because he’s black, they’ll say, as they’ve done in the past. When you run out of argument, you pull the racism card.

The fact is that it cannot be further from the truth. I do not think that he is deserving of having a night, not when Andrei Markov (990 games) hasn’t received that honour, that Tomas Plekanec (984 games) and Saku Koivu (792 games) haven’t been acknowledged the same way. Heck, even Patrice Brisebois (896), Steve Shutt (871), Mario Tremblay (852) and Réjean Houle (634) have not had their night, amongst many others. I’m not saying that they should, but based on where the bar is now set, they deserve it just as much – if not more – than Subban.

In my humble opinion, the P.K. Subban Homecoming Night is much like his career: all smoke and mirrors. But the media will certainly love it. He is, after all, very charismatic.

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