Subban's Questionable Actions In Rangers Win
I’m not going to gloat about Friday’s big 6 – 3 win over Montreal. Okay, I won’t gloat too much. Seriously, it was a big win for the Rangers who happened to catch a Montreal team in the second-half of a back-to-back and in their 3rd game in 4 nights overall. The Canadiens were missing 4 regulars, Hal Gill, Tomas Plekanec, Jeff Halpern and Brent Sopel to injury or illness while scoring forward Mike Cammalleri was under the weather battling the flu. The Rangers caught a tired Montreal team and took advantage of them.
The Rangers, by virtue of their position in the standings relative to Montreal’s, was the more desperate team and they played like it in the first period. New York went wild scoring 5 goals in the period and chasing likely Vezina candidate Carey Price. I have to commend Montreal for not giving up and closing the gap to 5 – 3 in the 3rd before a PP goal by Vinny Prospal finally put the game out of reach.
Many Rangers fans were understandably worried when Montreal forward Benoit Pouliot ran through Henrik Lundqvist late in the 3rd while driving to the net. Lundqvist remained on the ice for a moment but recovered enough to close the game out. He’s suffering from a stiff and sore neck and is questionable for Sunday’s tilt against Pittsburgh. (Update: Lundqvist is in net for the Rangers).
As far as that play goes, I agree with coach Tortorella who felt it was just a hockey play that resulted in a hard collision with the Ranger goalie. Players are taught to drive to the net and that’s exactly what Pouliot did. Eminger actually guided him into Hank. I have no beef there.
I do have a beef with the Canadiens though; specifically with rookie defenseman P.K. Subban. Hey, I get it; he’s a pretty good player now and has the potential to be a very good player in the near future. Why wouldn’t the Canadiens fans love him? I have seen Subban play all of 4 full games; all against the Rangers. I would like the insight of someone who has seen the kid play more than I have. That’s why I want to call out the lead Canadiens guy on this site, George Prax (his last name is too long for me to spell out all the way so Prax it is for purposes of this piece), to engage in a discussion/debate on P.K. Subban. George, are you listening buddy? You versus me, Topic: P.K. Subban and whether or not he is destined to become one of the NHL’s most hated players and does he deserve to be thought of as such.
Before you say anything George, or any other Montreal apologist, Sean Avery is a punk. You will get no argument from me on that. I do rank him below Matt Cooke, Patrick Kaleta, Jarkko Ruutu and a few others on the punk scale. While Avery is an annoyance and a jerk, those guys have been involved more in plays which have resulted in the injuries of opposing players. Avery doesn’t usually engage in that type of behavior.
Now back to Subban; here are a few things I have seen from him that leads me to believe he will one day deservedly be considered among the likes of Avery, Cooke, etc.
In an earlier game with the Rangers, Subban clearly slew-foot F Brandon Dubinsky directly in front of the officials and no penalty was called, strangely. Slew-foots are a dangerous penalty that can result in injury.
Truth be told, Subban is far from the first and only player to ever do that. In fact, Dubinsky, the player whom Subban performed the move on, isn’t above rough, physical and sometimes questionable play. I would never base an opinion of a player on one single play. But there is more.
Let’s look at some more recent actions committed by Subban just this Friday. Early in the contest, with the score tied at 1, Brandon Prust went hard to the net and while Carey Price struggled to cover a loose puck, Prust was able to get his stick on it. Prust actually succeeded in chipping the puck towards the goal and hitting the post in the process. The whistle was blown just as Prust struck the puck.
Naturally, defensemen want to protect their goalie and I expected someone to get into Prust’s face and give him a shove or two; that’s hockey. Subban was the Montreal defender closest to the play but instead of engaging Prust with a shove he reached up with both hands grabbing Prust around the head/neck area and spun the Rangers forward to the ice.
Absolutely mystifying to me was the penalty calls made on the play. Prust got 2 minutes for interfering with Subban and Subban was given a minor for roughing. So getting tossed to the ice is actually interfering with the guy throwing you down? Interesting.
Look, Subban isn’t the biggest player but at 6’, 206 lbs. (as listed on the Montreal Canadiens official website) he is comparable in size to Brandon Prust, 6’2”, 193 lbs. (according to Rangers website). Was it really necessary for Subban to react as I would expect a small player like Brian Gionta to behave when confronting a player like Prust? Prust is no monster like Derek Boogaard. Prust is tied for 4th in the NHL with 16 fighting majors on his card and is noted for his pugilistic skills but Subban is no stranger to squaring off with an opponent as his 4 major penalties for fighting would suggest. To me that move by Subban was reminiscent of something someone like Avery would do.
Alright, every player does something like that at one point or another during a long season. Those two things aren’t enough to fairly characterize Subban as a dirty player. But the prosecution has yet to rest. Here’s one more from Friday’s game.
Later in the game, with the Rangers up 5 – 2, PK Subban skated in towards the Rangers goal in pursuit of the puck when he bumped into Lundqvist. Again nothing major there as he was driving to the net. However, Rangers defenseman Michael Sauer did what he should do in that case; he went to Subban and gave him a little of the business. Some shoves occurred and Sauer dropped his gloves as he pursued a retreating Subban. While Subban appeared to be skating to the safety of the linesmen, only dropping his gloves when he reached the proximity of the officials, Sauer, who wears a visor, removed his helmet as I believe all players who have a visor and want to fight should do. With Subban so close to the officials, the fight would not be allowed to commence and both players would receive 2 minute minors for roughing.
TSN analyst Pierre Maguire, who apparently has a lot of admiration for Subban, defended Subban by saying he was unafraid of anyone and would have gone with Sauer. However, Subban’s actions were contradictory of someone wanting to throw down there. Instead of standing in and dropping his gloves he retreated quickly to where the officials were gathered.
I’m sure to many of you reading this, especially the large number of Candiens fans, I have yet to prove my accusations about Subban. Well, the prosecution now calls Philadelphia Flyers center and Captain, Mike Richards, to the stand.
Here’s an excerpt of comments made by Richards to a radio reporter back in November about Subban:
"He's a guy that's come in the league and hasn't earned respect," Richards told the radio station. "It's just frustrating to see a young guy like that come in here and so much as think that he's better than a lot of people. You have to earn respect in this league. It takes a lot. You can't just come in here as a rookie and play like that. It's not the way to get respect from other players around the league. Hopefully someone on their team addresses it, because, uh, I'm not saying I'm going to do it, but something might happen to him if he continues to be that cocky."
To put these comments in a little context, I think Richards is a piece of crap too. Also, these remarks came after Richards’ Flyers lost a 3 – 0 decision to Subban’s Habs. Naturally, Subban’s teammates stuck up for the youngster. Here’s a quote from fellow Habs defender and Associate Captain, Hal Gill:
"That's when P.K. plays well, when he's under people's skin and forces people into poor decisions trying to hit him," said Habs blueline, said Gill. "Then he can skate and wheel off and make plays. From what I've seen, that's what P.K. does well. I wouldn't expect him to change anything he does.
"You know, he's got a lot to learn about the game, but I think the way he plays, it is exciting and fun."
That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement as I see some holes and omissions in Gill’s defense of Subban. If you were to substitute the name of Avery for Subban in Gill’s first sentence you would be left with this:
“That’s when Sean plays well, when he’s under people’s skin and forces people into poor decisions trying to hit him.”
I’ve searched the internet high and low for it and can’t find any but I am quite sure Torts has made very similar remarks about Sean Avery’s game on multiple occasions.
I can truthfully see from my perspective as a fan what Richards is talking about too. There is a fine but distinct line between confidence and arrogance and I’ve seen Subban cross that line. There is just something about Subban’s on-ice demeanor that bothers me. To better articulate what I mean here are some quotes from my favorite movie, Tombstone, where Doc Holliday is talking to “Big Nose” Kate upon meeting fellow gunfighter, Johnny Ringo:
Ringo: And you must be Doc Holliday.
Doc: That’s the rumor.
Ringo: You retired too?
Doc: Not me. I’m in my prime.
Ringo: Yeah, you look it.
I included the previous comments because I like them and they provide some background.
Doc: And you must be Ringo. Look, darling. It’s Johnny Ringo. The deadliest pistol since Wild Bill, they say. What do you think, darling? Should I hate him?
Kate: You don’t even know him.
Doc: Yes, but there’s just something about him. Something around the eyes. I don’t know, reminds me of…… me. No. I’m sure of it, I hate him.
After an exchange ensues in Latin between Doc and Ringo.
Marshal Fred White: Come on boys. We don’t want any trouble in here. Not in any language.
Doc: Evidently Mr. Ringo is an educated man. Now I really hate him.
That kind of describes how I (Holliday) and most Rangers fans feel about Subban (Ringo). I know, I am a Rangers fan and I have my red, white and blue Rangers glasses on. That’s why I am encouraging Mr. Prax to represent the Candiens fans on this debate. I only ask that he and the rest of the Canadiens fans reading this take of their blanc, bleu y rouge glasses off too. (I don’t speak French so I apologize if I made any mistakes there).
Alright Prax, let’s hear it. I want your best defense of Subban. Try to keep it clean and expect me to respond as vociferously to your argument as I expect you to answer mine.