When P.K. Subban was traded on the eve of his no-trade clause kicking in to the Nashville Predators, fans of the Montreal Canadiens were left in shock that an expected cornerstone of a team aiming for the Stanley Cup was dealt.
Subban was drafted as part of the incredibly successful 2007 draft class which included current Montreal Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty, current New York Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh. Subban immediately started making an impression with his refreshing candour and infectious enthusiasm.
He entered his rookie season in 2009-10 as a player who was potentially going to surprise at training camp, already his third with the Canadiens. He started his first professional season with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League, scoring 18 goals and putting up 53 points in 77 games, and easily winning over the fanbase with his relentless energy and enthusiasm.
He got called up during his first professional season, and contributed two assists in two NHL games, but it was his play in the 2010 playoffs, scoring his first of many goals during the Canadiens' incredible playoff run.
He also set up this beautiful set play with Mike Cammalleri:
P.K. Subban earned his spot on the Canadiens roster at the start of the 2010-11 season and never looked back. He scored 14 goals that year, his second-highest total to date, but it was a lack of discipline, leading the league in minor penalties taken that was a worrying trend. He did however regale in the rivalry with the Boston Bruins, first by flattening aggitator Brad Marchand with a crushing hit ...
... and then scoring an absolute monster goal in the 2011 Playoffs deep in hostile territory, forcing the teams into overtime of a Game 7 playoff series:
The team faltered in 2011-12 under crumbling management and coaching, but Subban could have always been counted on to provide some excitement for the team, ESPECIALLY against the Bruins.
Subban was an exciting player to watch for sure. Not too many players on the Canadiens took risks like he did, and his style of play beckoned back to a time when puck control and individual skill were on display rather than the dull dumping and winning the chase for a cycle. When Subban was on the ice something was going to happen.
And he wasn't just a defender with a good first pass and a slapper from the point. He was fast, and his stickwork was excellent. If he wanted to he really could be a forward, but probably relishes playing a position that requires his input over the entire length of the ice.
Overall, Subban played seven seasons in the Canadiens organization, dressing for a total of 434 regular season games.
He ranks 10th all time in points for defencemen on the team with 278, ahead of names like Jean-Guy Talbot, Tom Johnson, and Emile Bouchard, in fewer games.
With 63 goals he is also tied for tenth all-time ahead of such notable offensive defencemen like Sheldon Souray and Jean-Claude Tremblay.
For playoff points he ranks seventh overall among defencemen, which is remarkable given the dynasties of the past that the current edition of the franchise struggles to emulate.
These statistics place him among the top defenders in the history of the organization, and had his tenure continued with the Canadiens he surely would have built upon those numbers and climbed among the very best the team has ever seen.
But the thing that I will remember him for the best above all else is the selfless time he put working with the Montreal Children's Hospital, including the $10M commitment and the Winter Wonderland Christmas party he organized for sick children at the hospital.
Predator fans you should consider yourselves lucky to have such a player on your team and such a man in your city, Cherish him as he is truly one of a kind. Watch your records crumble and rejoice.