Emotions are understandably running high for fans of the Montreal Canadiens right now. The team just suffered a tremendous collapse, and somehow managed to miss the playoffs despite a historically good start. To top it off, the one person that most people are blaming for the season seems to be staying put as the team's head coach.
To add fuel to the fire, there has been some talk lately about the possibility of the team pursuing a big and controversial trade. Considering that there were reports of them gauging the market for P.K. Subban back in February, a lot of the conversation has been about whether he could be on the move. Naturally, this sent the fan base into a frenzy.
Amid all this talk, everyone should really just take a deep breath and relax, because the chances of P.K. Subban being traded are extremely slim.
He is one of the best defencemen in the entire league, and plays in every situation for the Canadiens. He is a Norris Trophy winner, a perennial top-three scorer on the team, and is part of the core leadership group. He is extremely popular in Montreal, and considering fan reaction to mere rumours, trading him would be an extremely unpopular decision.
Let's pretend for a minute that they were actually considering it. From a pure hockey standpoint, the only way you could trade Subban - and not come out a loser - would be if the package coming the other way included a suitable replacement for him. There is no internal replacement for him at the time being.
He plays the most minutes of any skater on the roster every night. He is a catalyst for possession, that carries the puck more than any other player in the NHL throughout the season. He drives Montreal's offense. If you had to use one word to describe him, it would probably be irreplaceable.
So who could they realistically try and get to replace him? Drew Doughty? Erik Karlsson? I don't see either of their clubs wanting to part ways with them, even for Subban. Simply put, you rarely see a team get back what they lose in a superstar, and you'll likely be left with a number of pieces that don't make up for what you're losing. This is starting to sound oddly familiar...
Then there is the rumour of a rift between Subban and Michel Therrien, which of course is worrying because it's also very familiar... Again, these are rumours, and considering that Subban is Therrien's most used defenceman, it seems unlikely that the coach wants him to go away.
Just for kicks, let's again pretend that this is true, and that it is the primary motivator for a hypothetical trade. Perhaps there is an example from, say 20 years ago, where a player was traded due to a rift with the coach and it ended up setting the franchise back years... And there is why the part about not getting back what you lose sounded so familiar.
Yeah, the Patrick Roy trade. Everybody knows how that worked out, and I'd wager to guess that cautionary tale weighs heavily on the mind of anyone a part of managing the Canadiens franchise. They might get some decent pieces for Subban, but the sum of those pieces is extremely unlikely to fill the gap he'd leave behind.
What about that $10 Million commitment he made to the Montreal Children's Hospital? Remember that? They named an atrium after him. P.K. Subban is as important to the city of Montreal in general as he is to it's hockey team and their fans. Why on earth would they want to move him considering that they're almost definitely not going to get back what he does on or off the ice.
Of course management would listen to offers, because when you have a very attractive asset that's just part of the job. That doesn't mean that they're actively looking to deal their top defenceman.
Teams that win Stanley Cups are built around dynamic puck movers who play elite level hockey in all three zones; players like P.K. Subban.
If you can get a sweet return for him, great, but it would be nearly impossible to find one that gets you closer to a championship.
Trading him isn't just inadvisable, it would be the worst mistake since that fateful Roy trade, and it is extremely hard to try and picture it happening. Marc Bergevin has made a few questionable decisions of late, but it is pretty hard to imagine him moving the biggest contract he's been responsible for with the Canadiens.
Rest easy Habs fans, because chances are that this is nothing more than a benign rumour.