February 09, 2011
If you've ever felt that people go out of their way to frame P.K. Subban(notes) of the Montreal Canadiens as an impetuous rookie with little respect for his elders or the tenets of The Game, then Tuesday's report from QMI Agency shouldn't surprise you.
Brash Montreal Canadiens rookie defenceman P.K. Subban, who has played all of 49 NHL games, might be rubbing his older teammates the wrong way. Tension between Subban and veteran blueliner Hal Gill(notes) appeared to surface Tuesday after the rookie scattered his equipment around the dressing room, which gave the impression he was treating the equipment staff like servants.
An aside: Far be it from us to interject race into a conservation where it may not belong ... but "like servants"? Really?
Noticing what was happening, Gill picked up Subban's jersey and handed it back to him, saying, "You're an a--hole, P.K."
Seeing the surprised looks on the faces of reporters around him, Gill added, "And you can write that."
Stunned by his teammate's reaction, Subban began to apologize, though it appeared to be too little, too late for Gill. "As my dad said, your excuses aren't going to get the lawn mowed any better," Gill shot back.
This revealing and incendiary glimpse into the Montreal Canadiens' dressing room "might" show P.K. Subban as a problem child in the eyes of his teammates. Until you realize that Subban described his relationship with Gill as "little brother, big brother" in the Montreal Gazette. And until you read Habs beat writer Arpon Basu on CTV's Daily Hab-it blog, which tells the same story while revealing QMI's report to be baseless tripe.
From the Daily Hab-it:
At one point, Subban was discussing the Super Bowl with someone when Gill piped up. "P.K., what happened?" he said, in a voice so stern it couldn't really be taken seriously.
Gill was holding Subban's practice jersey, which he had picked up off the floor.
"Oh, did I just toss that on the ground?" Subban asked, his hand clearly in the cookie jar.
Subban began apologizing, promising it wouldn't happen again, to which Gill replied, "You're a (bleeping) idiot. You're a (bleeping) idiot."
The tone of voice on that one was as ridiculously stern as before, except it was even harder to take him seriously.
"Don't throw our (bleeping) team jersey on the ground," Gill continued.
Subban: "I'm sorry. It won't happen again."
Gill: "Sorry doesn't mow the lawn."
(Basu asked Gill what the hell that meant, and Gill said it goes back to not doing a chore as a child and then apologizing for it ... but that doesn't get the chore done.)
The story has a ton of other details that reveal this situation to be completely innocuous and, in the end, simply an interesting glimpse into their relationship as teammates and mentor/student.
So how did this story become transformed into a point of controversy? Basu sees it as "a comical scolding [that was] interpreted differently by someone who is ultimately an outsider," and writes:
Except the result of that little exchange turned into this story about how Subban is bad in the dressing room, and how he's yet another example of today's rookie player skipping steps on his way to veteran status. The story was then translated into English later in the day, turning it into a double-translated story because the original quotes were all in English. General rule of thumb: double-translated is twice as likely to be inaccurate.
But again: This comes back to Subban. Had this been Lars Eller(notes) and Tomas Plekanec(notes), does it make the papers? Maybe, but not nearly with the scrutiny and undertones that accompanied the report on Subban.
This guy’s words and actions are going to be overanalyzed now and until the word "brash" isn’t used in the opening paragraph in half of his press clippings. The mistakes a young player makes, and the moments of growth he experiences, are going to be cast as evidence of insubordination or "brash" behavior.