From his Norris Trophy win to the blockbuster trade that ushered him out of Montreal, and all the discussion in between regarding where he fits in the grand scheme of the sport, Subban has quickly become one of the most polarizing names in hockey, on and off the ice.
But despite all the doubters and the critics who question whether his personality is too grand for the usually timid NHL, it appears Subban has no qualms about letting that personality shine through in his new city.
The Toronto, Ont. native shed some light on his comfort level with his second NHL team on Saturday, joining Scott Oake for Hockey Night in Canada’s After Hours segment.
Discussing the high-profile 2016 deal that saw Subban and Shea Weber swap jerseys, Oake asked the former Montreal Canadien one simple question: “Do you feel more comfortable being yourself in Nashville?”
“Yeah,” Subban said. “You know what, I think when I came in, the first call that I had was with (head coach) Peter Laviolette. He told me ‘Listen, we want you to be yourself. We want you to come in and work hard, be a good teammate like you’ve always been, and just be yourself. Bring that energy you bring every day.’ I think it’s contagious.
“I think as long as you continue to embrace your teammates the right way, there’s nothing wrong with coming to the rink every day and having energy.”
Though the 28-year-old rearguard is thriving in Nashville, Subban made clear he remains thankful to the club that got him started in the big leagues.
“Montreal, regardless of what everybody says, they gave me the opportunity to play in the NHL, and believed in me,” Subban said. “Geoff Molson and all the ownership group were great to me while I was there and great to my family. Players, training staff, everybody.”
Subban’s first go-round in a Predators jersey was undoubtedly a memorable one. While the smooth-skating defender was limited to 66 games during the regular season, he helped Nashville claw their way to their first ever Stanley Cup Final, posting 12 points from the back end during that run while skating over 25 minutes a night.
Currently leading the Western Conference, Nashville hasn’t slowed down since. And according to Subban, that’s due in large part to some key acquisitions that haven’t garnered quite as much discussion as his own.
“I think that there was so much talk last year about the trade with me and Shea, and I think that a lot of that has to do with the Montreal market,” Subban said. “But not enough is said about the trades (for) Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg and now Kyle Turris.”
In 17 games since he first donned a Predators jersey, Turris has amassed a sterling 17 points—an undeniably strong start to his Nashville tenure.
“Kyle Turris has been a huge acquisition to our team,” Subban said. “And really it’s changed our identity a little bit. We do have that depth at centre now and it’s not just him.
“Collectively as a group we’re confident.”
Watch the full interview with Subban and Oake above.