subbanThe contrarians have presented any number of reasons  why P.K. Subban should not be named captain of the Canadiens next month.  Their main arguments seem to be that Subban is too young or not mature-enough for the job.  Neither argument holds water when held up to close scrutiny.

P.K. is now 25.  More than half of the current captains in the league were named to the honour before they reached their mid-twenties.  Gabriel Landeskog, Sidney Crosby and Vincent Lecavalier were still teenagers.  In Chicago JonathanToews was 20 and the Islanders John Tavares 23.   Saku Koivu was 24 when he replaced Vincent Damphouse as Canadiens captain in 1999.

So forget that “age” thing.

And about that “maturity” business.  In my decades covering the Canadiens, I have never seen anyone assume the high profile Subban has taken on this summer. He has represented himself, his team, the league and hockey in a round of public appearances that would dwarf Justin Trudeau’s Liberal campaign schedule.   Through all of it, given every opportunity to do so, Subban has never taken a single wrong step.

Being captain of the Canadiens requires a combination of leadership inside the dressing room,  maintainance an open communication line between players and the coaching staff and near-daily handling of media and public relations.    If you had asked me two years ago, I would have said ‘no way” At the time it seemed to me Subban was just having too much fun; not so much on the ice where he pretty much stuck to business but away from the game where he seemed to be ‘living the dream’ as it were.  That’s not the 2014 version of P.K. Subban.  He is still a Type-A personality (may that never change) but between the ages of 23 and 25 Subban has grown as a professional hockey player.

SUBBAN MCLEANSShow me a seasoned diplomat that could have maintained his dignity and put into perspective those ugly Boston racism issues during this year’s Stanley Cup.   But for his own measured and patient public handling of what was an intense salary negotiation, our summer could have degenerated into a media circus like the mudslinging stalemate that exists right now in Columbus between the Blue Jackets and free agent Ryan Johansen.   Before that there was his “team-first” mentality while he watched and cheered for Team Canada from the sidelines at the Socchi Olympics.

Maturity?  Try to conjure up anyone in hockey today, including the NHL’s other 29 team captains, that could have better handled the things Subban dealt with over the last year.

I am still of the opinion that, off his thirteen year Canadiens career (five of them as Alternate Captain), Andrei Markov has at least earned the right to say ‘no’ to an offer of team captaincy.  (Gionta told TVA Sports last week that the best candidates in his mind are Plekanec and Moen}   All said, I would not lose a moment’s sleep if Subban ultimately became the team’s choice.

SUBBAN – LEAGUE’S NUMBER ONE PERSONALITY?

This from Adam Proteau of the Hockey News who on Friday listed Subban as number one on his top ten list of the NHL’s personalities; ahead of Roberto Luongo (2nd), Ilya Bryzgalov (5), Brian Burke (6th), Paul Bissonette (8th) and Mike Cammalleri (10th).  Click here for the full list.   Proteau wrote –

  1. P.K. Subban, Montreal Canadiens.Regardless of the obstacles that have come his way in his burgeoning professional hockey career, Subban has maintained his smile, his professionalism, and most importantly, his natural charisma. The contract he signed with Montreal this summer might cause lesser men to turn all their focus inward and shy away from the public eye, but Subban is already seeking outloftier heightswith his team and making appearances across the cultural spectrum – including Montreal’s annual comedy festival (featuring some NSFW language from actor Seth Rogen)

SUBBAN ON HIS CORSI NUMBERS

One thing I’ve learned over the years is the last person you should ask about the intricacies NHL’s rule book is a player.  Their attention span on the subject is limited basics picked up along the way.

We’re finding out that Subban is one of those who pays attention to the game’s minutiae including the often inscrutable depth of  so-called new Advanced Statistics.

Subban was in New York this week as part of the public relations annual player tour that brings together many of the NHL all-stars for the purpose promoting the upcoming season.  Craig Custance, who shares space on ESPN.com’s hockey page with Pierre Lebrun decided to take up fancy stats with some of the players.  Most of them were pretty vague on the subject, that is until he came to Subban.   P.K. was his shown Corsi statistics which basically showed that when he was on the ice, the opposition had the puck more often than the Canadiens.  Wrote Custance

When shown his numbers, Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban quickly revealed one of the flaws in examining Corsi by itself. He wanted zone starts to be factored in, pointing out that he starts many of his shifts in the defensive zone.

A few clicks later, now over to behindthenet.ca, he was shown that his offensive zone start percentage was at just 47.1 percent.

“See?” Subban said. “I told you.”