If P.K. Subban doesn't get selected for the Canadian Olympic team, he should start his own team.
Fill the roster with misfits. A kid with asthma. A girl. Devon Sawa. Get Rick Moranis to coach.
Okay, this is the plot of Little Giants, so it's probably not going to happen. But as for the part where P.K. Subban doesn't get selected to represent Canada in Sochi, incredibly, that's an actual possibility. As TSN's Bob McKenzie suggested on Tuesday, Team Canada is not yet sold on Subban to wear the red leaf.
"I would put P.K. on the team but I don't know if the powers that be would," he said.
This is, in a word, utterly trelopial. That's not actually a word, I know, but if Team Canada leaves P.K. Subban at home, I don't have to make any sense either.
Impossible as it may seem, let us try, for a moment, to understand this potential decision.
On the one hand, when it comes to their blue line, Team Canada looks absolutely loaded on the right side. Drew Doughty, Shea Weber, and Alex Pietrangelo and Brent Seabrook are all pretty close to locks to make this club, especially the first two, and they also all play the right side.
So does Subban, but Team Canada can't overload on right-handed D-men and expect a few to move over, especially in a short tournament where there's really no time to let guys adjust to the other side -- from day one, you need your superstars playing the superstar game that got them selected in the first place.
But this argument only works if Subban isn't already a lock. Why wouldn't he be, especially considering he's a Norris Trophy winner and the third highest-scoring defence man in the league at the time of this writing?
His defensive play, apparently. Montreal Canadiens' coach Michel Therrien has been careful with Subban this year, benching him at times when his club is holding a lead, fairly or unfairly.
Of course, sometimes Subban does things that make it seem "fairly":
What's resulted is a suspicion that Subban is a defensive liability, something Team Canada general manager Steve Yzerman and company will not tolerate on their team. After all, if the Canadian Olympic team you built doesn't win gold, your Hockey Hall of Fame membership is burned at the foot of the CN Tower and you're sent into exile. There's a lot at stake here.
But as the Canadiens establish themselves as one of the league's stingiest teams, even this criticism is melting away.
"Big time," Therrien said when asked if Subban's defensive play is a reason why the Canadiens have been one of the NHL's best defensive teams of late, yielding two or fewer goals in 11 straight games. "I would say to you big time.
"He's still a threat offensively. He's still a threat on the power play. We give him different responsibilities defensively playing against good players around the League and he's shown a lot of leadership the way he's preparing himself and approaching the game. Definitely he's been really, really, really good."
Three reallys. That's a lot.
But truthfully, the idea that Subban is a defensive liability is nonsense anyway, As Andrew Berkshire points out, the guy tilts the ice like few other defencemen in the game, and far more than any other Canadian blueliner.
The reigning Norris Trophy winner is at it again, literally blowing the competition to smithereens. He's producing the best possession numbers, he's effecting his team more positively on the scoreboard than any other defenseman, he's producing points at the highest rate (tied with Keith), and he's doing it in the third toughest minutes in this group of excellent defensemen (and Staal).
Be sure to check out the chart that precedes this paragraph.
Seems to me the idea that Subban doesn't play defence is the result of how rarely he needs to, what with his nigh-unrivaled ability to keep the puck outside of the zone where he has to. That's a nice asset to have on your team, in my opinion. But hey, I never played the game. I mean, I'm no expert, but it's my understanding that a Subban type -- someone who keeps the play 200 feet from your goal -- would be helpful for Team Canada. And wouldn't you know it, a Subban type is available.
What else is there? What other possible reason could there be for leaving Subban in Montreal?
I've gotten e-mails from people suggesting that Team Canada's hesitation on Subban is a race thing. (My favourite was one that suggested Canada wasn't racist, but Russia is, and the racism Subban might face would be too much of a distraction for Canada's pursuit of gold to bring him along. To that guy I say: Dude. No.)
But I don't think that's the case.
If anything, I think Subban's natural swagger remains a little off-putting and bewildering to the Canadian hockey stiffs that misinterpret confidence as a me-first attitude. That's not ideal, especially with Team Canada being chock-full of superstars asked to leave their egos at the door. But if that's playing even the slightest role in their hesitation here, I would encourage Hockey Canada to re-examine where that perception is coming from, then get some damn smarts before you leave one of your country's best defenders at home because he confuses you.
Take him. There's no reason not to. None.
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