It's unavoidable with P.K. Subban and the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup Final. You know there will be tons of these stories.
First, a recap.
There's probably never been another trade in NHL history that has been discussed as much, and for so long, as the one that happened nearly a year ago between the Nashville Predators and Montreal Canadiens. At least, one that I can remember.
It was a shocking day that also saw another blockbuster trade in Edmonton sending Taylor Hall to the New Jersey Devils for Adam Larsson. The only one still talking about that trade is Hall, who to say the least, is still sounding a little bitter about the new found success of his former team, after suffering through the bad times.
P.K. Subban's name had popped up a few days earlier at the trade. The Montreal Canadiens quickly denied that they were trying to trade their superstar player. The media pounced, however, zeroing in on a number of things that make them believe where there is smoke, there's fire.
It was no secret that then head coach, Michel Therrien, was less than enamoured with Subban, singling him out for a loss two years ago in a February game against the Colorado Avalanche, after Subban had turned the puck over. Never mind that it was still a 3 on 3 going back the other way and ended up being played incorrectly by those three players, leaving Jarome Iglina all alone in front for a tap in. None of those players were called out.
There were rumours that Subban's over the top personality was rubbing some of the players the wrong way, including the captain, Max Pacioretty. It is suggested by at least one person that Pacioretty was more of a divider than uniter, while another person said Subban did make some mistakes that pissed off some his former teammates. I've never been in that dressing room, so I wouldn't know if that is true or not. It would appear P.K.'s new Nashville Predators don't seem to have a problem with him.
Former Montreal Canadiens and a friend of Subban, George Laraque, believes the players might have been jealous of Subban due to his popularity. Subban wasn't only the most popular player (maybe second behind Carey Price), but one of the most popular people in the entire city.
Lastly, a no movement clause would be kicking in on Canada Day, July 1st. That would make any trade that much more difficult to pull off. So, if Marc Bergevin wanted to move Subban without conditions, time was running out.
For whatever reason, P.K. Subban was swapped for Shea Webber. In the very first year of the trade, here is Subban and the Nashville Predators four wins away from the team's first Stanley Cup, while his former team has been golfing for a few weeks now.
Let's make it clear: the Predators were already a very good team and could still have made it this far had they not made the trade. In other words, Subban was not the final piece of the puzzle to a legit contender. It also might not be a coincidence, either.
He's not the top defenceman on this team, which already was one of the best with Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, and Mattias Ekholm. In Montreal, there was veteran Andrei Markov and Jeff Petry, but its nowhere close to be as good as Nashville's.
The one big knock on Subban, from a purely hockey standpoint, was that he wasn't as strong defensively or that he took too many risks. It's interesting, then, that Subban was tabbed to be on the shut down pairing with Ekholm and did more than just an admirable job.
No doubt, he will be out against either one of Pittsburgh's top guns, Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin.
One of the things I guess nobody seem to consider while Subban was still in Montreal (especially Thierrien) was that he needed to take those risks because the team is offensively challenged, proven by the team's 1st round exit where they struggled to score goals, something Bergevin failed to address at the trade deadline.
To be truthful, I wasn't a big P.K. Subban fan in the first place. But, as I came to the realization that not only was Subban a really good defenceman, but a pretty good guy, I began liking him more. Everyone who seems to be criticizing him for no good reason only made me like him even more.
I believe the Pittsburgh Penguins will repeat as Stanley Cup Champions in six games and while I'm not really rooting for either them, I wouldn't mind seeing the Predators win, if so P.K. could bring the Cup back to Montreal, not to rub it in to his former GM and teammates who may not have appreciated him, but so the kids at the Montreal Children's Hospital could enjoy the Cup up close.
All the other P.K. supporters in the city, and there are plenty of them, can remind Bergevin and Therrien about that, instead.
After just one year, it's hard to believe that a winner of this trade, for those who need there to be a winner, could already be declared. If the Predators win the Stanley Cup, then regardless of whatever happens in Montreal next season and beyond, they would be the winners because they get the younger player in Subban.
The real winner, though, is Subban himself. He now is in a place where he can continue to be himself and not worry about having daggers thrown his way by the organization.