Last April 6th, in "Re P.K. Subban - Told ya so!", Walt's very close friend, Poor Len Canayen, wrote "Unless something startling happens between now and the end of September, I'll be back then..." Well, as reported here (first!) earlier this afternoon, something startling has happened, so it's with pleasure that I turn the keyboard over to Poor Len.
Shed a tear (he writes) for Dave Stubbs, formerly the Montreal Gazette's cheerleader-in-chief for P.K. Subban, now scribbling for nhl.com. Who will Stubbsy worship now that his hero has been traded by the Montréal Canadiens to (gasp!) the Predators of Nashville?
Mr Stubbs thought that the sun, moon and stars shone out of the arse of the "transcendant" defenceman. The Canadiens management and coaching staff felt otherwise, as did many of his teammates. But the club's owners (Geoff Molson, prop.) loved him... when business was good. When the team missed the playoffs and fingers started to be pointed, minds were changed, and permission was given to GM Marc Bergevin to do what had to be done "for the good of the team". Which is exactly what I'd been advocating for the last two years.
P.K. Subban is a talented hockey player, when he manages to not fall down. But it takes more than talent to be a true star and an inspiration to your teammates. You need good judgment, maturity and, dare I say it, a modicum of humility. Those are the qualities which, combined with hockey skills, made Jean Béliveau, Gordie Howe, and Wayne Gretsky all-time greats. Those are the qualities which, sadly for him, Mr Subban lacks. To him, the game was all about P.K., and the cheerleaders at the Gazoo must take some of the blame for feeding P.K.'s ego, which long since became too big for the dressing room. That was why he had to go... for the good of the team.
Now P.K. has gone to Nashville, where he should feel right at home. Southern hospitality, you know. He will get an especially warm welcome from Nashville's finest if he appears on Main Street dressed as in the picture at right. Oh, they'll love him there, that's for sure.
In return for Subban, the Habs got the Predators' captain, Shea Weber, an all-star defenceman who is older, bigger and wiser than the One whose critics were labelled as incorrigible racists. Weber is not only more experienced, but more reliable on defence. Yet he scored 20 goals and 31 assists in 78 games with the Predators last season, compared with Subban's 6 goals and 45 assists in 68 games for the Canadiens.
In a statement this afternoon, Marc Begevin said, "Nous venons d'effectuer une importante transaction qui, j'en suis convaincu, fera du Canadien une meilleure équipe. Ce fut également l'une des décisions les plus difficiles que j'ai eu à prendre comme dirigeant du Canadien de Montréal. Nous venons d'obtenir, en Shea Weber, un défenseur de premier plan dans la LNH, un leader exceptionnel et un joueur qui, selon nous, améliorera notre brigade défensive et notre jeu de puissance pendant plusieurs saisons. Shea Weber a dominé tous les défenseurs de la LNH la saison dernière avec 14 buts en avantage numérique. C'est un défenseur complet, avec un gabarit imposant qui possède un puissant tir frappé."
For those who don't understand French -- wen you come on top da countree you gotta speak da langue, eh -- the key part is the first sentence: "...an important transaction which, I'm convinced, will make the Canadiens a better team." Ainsi soit-il.