MONTREAL – P.K. Subban is officially the best defenseman in the National Hockey League.
Just two-and-a-half years into his NHL career, Subban has already joined an incredibly exclusive club in Montreal. After posting career numbers in 2012-13, the 24-year-old capped the season by becoming the sixth player in franchise history to ever win the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the league’s best blue-liner.
“When you think of the fact that the last time this was won by a Montreal Canadien was Chris Chelios 24 years ago and it was in the year I was born, and to think I’m the sixth defenseman in the history of the Montreal Canadiens to win it, it’s a tremendous honor,” shared Subban, who co-led all NHL defensemen with 38 points this year. “I grew up a Canadiens fan; my father came to Canada and became a Canadiens fan and grew up watching the team, which just makes it that much more special.”
In addition to giving his dad, Karl, the greatest Father’s Day gift of all time by bringing him to Chicago to see his eldest son win the Norris Trophy in person, Subban plans on celebrating his end-of-season hardware alongside some of the people who helped mold him into the dynamic defenseman he’s become.
“My mom and dad are here, both of my brothers, close family friends, my cousin, and my minor hockey coach, Martin Ross, are all with me. I have a great entourage here,” mentioned the Toronto native. “I’m going to enjoy this for a few days and I’ve already been training for the past two-and-a-half weeks, so it’s not like I have to get back to training but I’ll enjoy it, then I’ll put it behind me and get ready for the next task. I’m already getting ready for the next one.”
Tying a career-high in points in just 42 games – including 26 points with the man advantage – Subban also showcased more maturity and poise in the defensive zone, steadily improving from a minus-8 differential in his rookie season to a plus-12 two years later.
With the NHL Award Show cancelled coming out of the lockout, Subban wasn’t able to give an acceptance speech as he collected his prize, but he knows exactly who he has to thank for helping him earn individual success this season.
“I would have spoken about how great my teammates have been this year,” stressed Subban, whose contract negotiations forced him to miss the first six games of the campaign. “Especially coming in late, it’s not always easy on your teammates. They were great and extremely supportive. The more success I had this year, the more my teammates supported me. It’s unbelievable when you have teammates like that; I wish they were here to celebrate with me.
“I don’t think you ever focus on being rewarded as being the best; I think you just focus on trying to be the best every day at what you do,” he added. “It’s always great to be recognized as someone at the top of your class, but at the end of the day, this is more of a team award than anything. It takes a special team and a special year to get awards like this and this year we definitely had a special year in Montreal.”
While his parents have already cleared off plenty of space on the mantle for his first NHL award, accepting the trophy from the United Center ahead of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals was just a reminder of the trophy he’d prefer to be heading home with.
“It’s a positive at the end of the season, but it’s not the way I would have liked it to end,” he explained. “You don’t play to win the Norris Trophy; you play to win the Stanley Cup.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
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