P.K. Subban talks Cam Newton, fun, and the new fan

Watch as P.K. Subban shows of some amazing eye-hand coordination on his shootout attempt at the NHL Skills competition.

“I guess you’re going to have to get used to [my celebrating], because I don’t plan on changing.” — Cam Newton

“Maybe me celebrating is something people don’t like, but I really don’t care.”P.K. Subban

Considering his status as a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan, P.K. Subban’s wish for this Sunday is painful to admit. Especially when you consider the Carolina Panthers thumped Subban’s Cowboys 33-14 in Week 12, re-injuring star quarterback Tony Romo in the process, and essentially squashing Dallas’ playoff hopes.

“I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I’d like to see Cam Newton win the Super Bowl,” said Subban at NHL All-Star weekend. “He deserves it. He’s had such a great season. I guess you could say Peyton Manning deserves it as well, but I love Cam Newton—everything he’s done.”

(And, no, Subban is not talking about this Cam Newton.)

What Newton does, of course, is not dissimilar to what Subban does: quarterback his team’s offence, exhibit an impressive level of professionalism in the face of some ignorant criticism, lead vocally and demonstratively, play and celebrate with unbridled joy, dress flamboyantly, be himself and be awesome with kids.

“He’s really smart and intelligent,” Subban said. “He’s been the greatest leader in the league this season, in terms of how he’s played on the field and conducted himself off it.”

Newton and Subban were born just two days apart in the spring of 1989. Both have injected new life into their respective sports.

Subban says his approach to hockey is similar to Newton’s in football. P.K. watches Cam’s interviews and believes they share similar viewpoints. Priority No. 1 is performance on the ice/field, as evidenced by Subban’s Norris Trophy and Newton’s surely forthcoming NFL MVP award. Entertainment comes second. Zebra-patterned Versace slacks and purple bespoke suits presumably come third.

“I’m a hockey player. I’m not an entertainer,” Subban asserts. “By entertainment, if you mean someone who isn’t afraid to engage with the fans, I’m that guy for sure. I was a fan; I still am a fan. Before I was in the NHL I was a fan of Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom, Ray Bourque, these types of superstars who had long careers. I understand from a fan’s standpoint, they want to know you. They want to interact with you.

“That’s what we’re trying to do as players, that’s what the league is trying to do: to make players not afraid to interact with fans, to be in the fans’ comfort zone, allow them to get to know you and you too get to know them.”

Newton and Subban are at the forefront of his movement.

Even with his Montreal Canadiens mired in a slump of epic proportions, Subban and his omnipresent grin represented his club proudly in Nashville. He drew huge laughs by dressing up as vintage Jaromir Jagr during the Skills Competition, and he even dabbled in dabbin’, Newton style.

“I threw it out there a couple times,” he smiled. “Just having fun, like everybody else. People express it in different ways.”

The funny thing is, back in 2014, Subban was compared to another flashy NFLer. In a Sun article titled “P.K. Subban’s the Deion Sanders of the NHL,” the defenceman said he’d pick Sanders to play him in the movie about his life.

The Newton parallel seems more fitting, though. More up-to-date.

“The new generation are more fans of individual players than they are the logos on the front of the jersey,” Subban said. “I know people like my dad are fans of a logo, but the new fans, they’re on social media now. They want to see what picture you’re tweeting, where you’re going. That’s a big part of our fan base in professional sports.

“Things do change.”