Why P.K Subban Is The Assh*le The NHL Needs

by Adam Silvers

On Wednesday night, the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs got off to a flying start.

The Chicago Blackhawks erased a three-goal deficit to beat the Nashville Predators in double overtime; the Calgary Flames scored the go-ahead goal with 30 seconds left to defeat the Vancouver Canucks; the New York Islanders smashed the Washington Capitals 4-1 in DC; and the Montreal Canadiens held off the Ottawa Senators to win 4-3.

Montreal's win, however, wasn't without controversy.

Halfway through the second period, with the Canadiens clinging to a 2-1 advantage, Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban was called for a nasty slash on Senators rookie Mark Stone.

He was ejected from the game, and Ottawa went on a five-minute power play. Before he was dismissed from the action, Subban assisted on both of Montreal's goals.

This is P.K. Subban in a nutshell.

To opposing teams, their fans and some members of the media, he's seen as a hot-headed, trash-talking brut.

To his teammates and loyal supporters of the Canadiens, P.K. Subban is viewed as the most important piece in an ever-changing Stanley Cup puzzle.

To me, he's a bit of both.

P.K. Subban is adept at turning the negative into a positive.

This season, P.K. Subban received the seventh-most minor penalties in the NHL (34).

He's been in the top-10 in that category every year of his career -- except a shortened 2009-2010 season -- including back-to-back first place finishes in 2011 and 2012.

This dude is the last one to back down from a challenge, a fight and least of all, a 50/50 puck. In short, Subban will do whatever it takes to make sure he gives his team the advantage.

And if there's no advantage to be had for Montreal, then Subban is perfectly fine taking a penalty to disrupt the flow of his opponent.

The thing about Subban, though, is when his two minutes in the box are up, he skates onto the ice like a bat out of hell.

It's kind of becoming his signature move.

Subban is the Canadien dream.

The 25-year-old, who's spent his entire six-year NHL career with Montreal, already has one Norris Trophy (awarded to the league's top defenseman) to his name.

He also has a slapshot that can reach triple digits on the radar gun.

The Montreal Canadiens know they have a franchise player, and that's why they recently gave Subban $72 million to secure his services for the next eight years.

And though he is yet to lift a Stanley Cup with Montreal, the Toronto native did play his part in Canada's gold medal triumph at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Subban isn't blind to the criticism he receives, he just channels it to his advantage.

Back in 2012, less than two seasons into P.K. Subban's NHL career, ESPN ran a piece in which the defenseman responded to some of the shade being thrown at him via several online message boards.

The fact that Subban's name is dragged through the mud on various sites only serves as further proof of his greatness.

Fans won't throw barbs at a player who isn't a threat to their team's success.

Subban is no stranger to dishing out a big hit or taking a penalty, but he also has one of the most lethal shots in the game and plays with as much hustle as anyone in the NHL.

The other elephant in the room, whether people want to acknowledge it or not, is the fact that P.K. Subban is a black man dominating in what has been perceived as a historically white sport.

Subban responded to one post about race with the same candor he displays on the ice.

Speaking to ESPN, he said,

Everyone is going to have an opinion on what I'm being scrutinized for. There have been a lot of black players in the NHL. I don't want to be noticed for that – I want to be noticed as being a good hockey player who can have a positive impact on his team. I hope to be a role model for kids of different ethnic backgrounds who want to play hockey.

Subban has made a career skating the line between intensity and recklessness.

P.K. Subban is a player who will literally go through a wall to make a play, whether on the offensive or defensive end of the ice.

But he'll also have moments where he takes penalties that can cost his team, and he can sometimes let his emotions get the best of him.

Take Wednesday night, for example.

Despite chopping at Mark Stone's hands like a cherry tree, Subban couldn't even believe he was called for a penalty, let alone tossed from the game.

This was his reaction after learning Stone returned to the bench after being looked at in the locker room.

Mark stone is back. PK's reaction: — Jason Gold (@JayGold85) April 16, 2015

On Thursday, mind you, Ottawa announced Stone -- who scored 26 goals and 64 points this season -- suffered a fractured right wrist, and his status for the rest of the series is up in the air.

Such is life with one of the game's most passionate performers.

Love him or hate him, there's no denying P.K. Subban is one of the most electric players in hockey and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

Citations: NHL Player Minor Penalties Statistics - 2014-15 (ESPN), Clearing the boards (ESPN), Mark Stone (Hockey Reference), P.K. Subban (Hockey Reference)