MONTREAL — There was a certain buzz in the air whenever P.K. Subban, who recently announced his retirement, carried the puck up the ice at the Bell Centre.
But before the anticipation built, there was a brief moment of silence. A moment in which Montreal Canadiens fans tapped each other on the shoulder, to make sure everyone was standing at attention. Subban has the puck and something special is about to happen.
As he crossed the blue line, the buzz grew exponentially.
As Subban weaved his way through traffic in the neutral zone, the electricity became palpable.
Once the puck ended up in the back of the net, the atmosphere shifted to flat-out euphoria.
During those few seconds, Subban held all 21,273 Canadiens fans in the palm of his hand, something achieved by very few players before him.
For an entire generation of fans, he represented the best of the Montreal Canadiens, a throwback to the era when the team itself epitomized an entertaining style of hockey. A style of play that was built on skill and hope.
here’s one of favourite goals scored by PK Subban. PK was one of my favourite players growing up, he was so fun to watch play during his time as a montreal canadien. thank you for everything you did for the habs, enjoy retirement suby ❤️ pic.twitter.com/PLihu5h3oW
— ava (@teapottoffoIi) September 20, 2022
It was that ‘edge-of-your-seat’ brand of hockey that led to Subban becoming one of the most popular Montreal Canadiens players in recent history. His impact went well beyond his Norris Trophy, which, still stands as the last individual award won by a skater in the organization.
And it was the hope, the hope that he may just reach into his bag of tricks and treat you to a highlight reel play you’ll remember for the rest of your life, that made him special.
While most players stuck to the same old boring script referencing lucky bounces and working hard for 60 minutes, Subban spoke to the greatest truth in sports: fans deserve to be entertained, as evidenced by his WWE-worthy quote during the 2014 playoff series versus the Boston Bruins.
P.K. Subban, on Game 7: “I can’t wait for the crowd, the noise, the energy in the building. I can’t wait to take that all away from them.”
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) May 13, 2014
It’s no wonder P.K. Subban holds a unique place in Montreal Canadiens lore. He was built for big moments, moments that made a team like the Montreal Canadiens special.
If there was no big moment on the horizon, Subban had the rare talent to create one out of thin air, not only due to his elite hockey skills but also thanks to his ability to draw the ire and focus of an entire team by simply playing a fun, unadulterated brand of hockey.
For many years, this was seen as an affront to the ‘sanctity’ of the game, but, in reality, the criticism faced by Subban at the start of his career was born from envy, seeing as he held the attention of an entire city, one that lives and breathes hockey, one that craved on-ice heroes— a role played to perfection by Subban.
And though his exit from the organization left the fanbase fractured, his legacy with the team is undeniable.
Subban tapped directly into the life force of the city, combining a respect for the team’s glorious past as well as a penchant for seizing the moment in front of him.
Montreal runs on joie de vivre, and for the better part of the decade, Subban was the one who played the role of Bacchus, dousing the city in excitement and happiness.
There will never be another P.K. Subban, but thankfully for Montreal Canadiens fans, he created enough fantastic memories to last a lifetime.