P.K. Subban helps bring the personality to NHL Skills Competition
NASHVILLE – P.K. Subban isn’t a planner. So when he arrived at Bridgestone Arena ahead of Saturday night’s NHL Skills Competition he had no idea what kind of tricks he’d pull during the Breakaway Challenge event.
So about 25 minutes before the players hit the ice, Subban cooked up an idea. With help from the Eastern Conference All-Star training staff he found a mullet, took a little spray paint to it, tossed on a Jaromir Jagr Florida Panthers jersey and instantly transformed into the 43-year old hockey legend.
“He had no idea. I wasn’t going to tell him,” Subban said after winning the event. “It had to be a surprise. I was kind of ribbing him earlier ‘what move would you use in the shootout?’ and he told me to do something when I was on my butt and shoot in the top corner, but little did he know I already had that in my back pocket.”
Subban was such a fan of Jagr's growing up that he once wore No. 68 during a youth tournament in Brantford, Ont. in his honor.
“It’s a tribute to the great player that he is, the career that he’s had so far in the NHL and the player that he’s going to go down as when he’s finished playing and that’s as one of the best players to ever play in the NHL,” Subban said. “He’s one of my favorite players growing up and it’s a sign of respect. For me, it’s a huge honor for that five minutes I was Jaromir Jagr. It’s pretty cool.”
The sixth edition of the trick shot competition was probably the most entertaining. From Subban’s Jagr tribute to Brent Burns donning a Chewbacca mask for an attempt, personality was on full display.
This is what All-Star Weekend can provide. It’s a five-day break where players can relax with their friends and families and forget about the stresses of the 82-game grind that is the NHL regular season. The Skills Competition lets them have fun and, for some, come out of their shells a bit to entertain the fans.
While hockey can be a sport where players are too buttoned up and having fun is frowned upon, Subban sees the tremendous upside in allowing fans to see a different side of their favorite players.
“I’m all for it. I encourage it,” said Subban. “I was talking to [Brent Burns] in the middle of the ice and he was saying he was so nervous being able to put that whole thing together. But it shouldn’t be about that. It’s just about the fans. It’s good when guys like Burnsie and other guys do different things that maybe guys haven’t done before.
“In my opinion this is the new NHL. This is what it’s about. You look at professional sports, the more athletes can engage and interact with the fan base, the more you’re going to get out of it, right? The more you’re going to get out of your league, the more revenues grow, in my opinion. That’s the game now. Fans want to be able to interact with players and get to know them. I think the All-Star Game is a great opportunity to do that, no matter what the format is.”
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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Sean_Leahy
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