Subban talks Sochi, RFA status, Briere fist pump

A new survey shows Canadians coast-to-coast are rooting for Montreal and Pittsburgh in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

P.K. Subban has an idea.

The first Montreal Canadiens defenceman to win the James Norris Memorial Trophy since the Hall of Famer Chris Chelios in the ’80s wants his off-season to be as well-documented as his on-season. And — after a four-game contract holdout — Subban could not have been more on in 2013, matching a career-best 38 points despite playing just half a season (42 games) and being crowned as the top defenceman in the entire league.

Subban, 24, did not exactly keep a low profile during the lockout or his back-and-forth paper-pushing with the Habs’ brass. There’s P.K. pretending to be a weatherman! There he is deadpanning his way through a Nike commercial! There’s P.K. analyzing games on Sportsnet! There’s P.K. co-headlining a giant charity game alongside Steven Stamkos!

The Norris victory, in Subban’s mind, should quiet critics who confuse his love for extra-curriculars with a lack of commitment. The Norris is his ticket to pursue whatever he pleases after the whistle. Subban hosting a morning talk show is Shaq recording raps with the Fu-Schnickens and studying law enforcement when he’s not posterizing peons.

Back to multimedia, multidimensional P.K.’s latest brainchild: Put a camera in the gym. Have it automatically flick on every day this summer when he walks in to work out. Stream that video – Subban lunging and lifting and sweating — on a website, maybe this one. Allow fans to see how many reps he’s willing to push himself through in order to prove the Norris was no fluke, that a hunk of metal isn’t the pinnacle on this climb. That the Habs need to make a deeper playoff run, that maybe the kid who learned to game in second-hand hockey gear can cock back on a Subban slapper in Sochi.

“People would watch that, don’t you think?” he asks, but it’s not really a question.

First-round playoff exit aside, everything is coming up Subban.

As the sun blares full-blast in downtown Toronto, Subban is hanging out with his dad, Karl. It’s a take-your-dad-to-work day, the family doing what it can to support hockey-hungry children through Hyundai Hockey Helpers. He’s excited about the Habs’ off-season moves, he is driven to make Canada’s Olympic team, and a year from now he will be even richer in wallet and probably spirit.

January’s awkward early-season holdout resulted in a two-year, $5.75-million pact between player and team. Cap-hit comparables — Karl Alzer, Marc Methot, Bryce Salvador — led the hockey world to believe Habs GM Marc Bergevin got Subban for cheap. But Subban’s killer performance in 2013 puts him on target for a colossal pay bump next summer. sat down with Subban to talk Olympic dreams, contract strategy and how he’ll celebrate his first goal of the 2013-14 season.

On how important it is for him to make Team Canada:

“You never go into camp saying you want to make that team. When I was drafted by the Canadiens, I wanted to make the team right out of training camp, but when you’re talking about your country, it’s a bit different. Canada has the depth to send two teams to the Olympics. It comes down to need and how they’re going to structure their team. I hope I fall into one of those slots. To play for my country and wear that jersey again… I have a great track record with Team Canada, but to go overseas in an Olympic journey would be special.”

On how his Norris victory could improve his chances:

“I don’t know whether a trophy can change your decision if a player should be on that list or not. You have to take the best players available. Everybody’s situation is different, and everybody’s team situation is different. There are guys who are at the top of the league in scoring based on the team that they’re on – it’s that simple. There’s going to be guys who will have to work harder to be near the top in scoring based on the team they’re on. If you’re judging guys based on point totals and a hot stick, you’re not doing justice in terms of picking the best player available.”

On his favourite Olympic memory:

“I want (Sidney) Crosby’s dream. I want to score the winning goal in the gold medal game. That’s everybody’s dream. He’s the guy, so he’s got it, but everybody has dreams of doing that. How good would that feel? To be the guy that won our country a gold medal? Tremendous. So to have even a little influence on that would be cool.”

On the top three Canadian forwards:

“You gotta respect the best player in the world, so I’d put Crosby in there. I’d probably say (John) Tavares. [long pause] It’s a tossup between (Jonathan) Toews and (Jordan) Eberle, so let’s go with four. Toews and Eberle.

On the Habs acquiring 35-year-old Flyers buyout Daniel Briere:

“There’s no doubt in my mind he’ll be welcomed with open arms in Montreal. Look at his playoff statistics [109 points in 108 games]. A motivated Daniel Briere is a dangerous player to have on your team. He’s definitely going to help us.

“I love his celebration. Watching all the Don Cherry (Rock ’Em Sock ’Em Hockey) tapes, I’ve seen that fist pump a million times. There’s something to be said for a player that has a consistent same celebration for his entire career. It doesn’t matter what situation he’s in or where he scores from, he always seems to get that celebration off. I’m sure we’ll be joking around with it. Maybe for my first goal this year I’ll do the Daniel Briere fist pump.”

On Montreal’s signing of UFA enforcer George Parros:

“I had the opportunity to spend some time with him during the lockout and get to know him. He’s a bright guy, and he brings a lot of character to the team. He’s calming. He brings an ‘OK, guys, just go play the game’ kinda thing. He brings a lot of intangibles to a hockey team that helps win championships. There’s no doubt in my mind he’ll be a fan favourite.”

On the retirement of former Habs player and current Columbus Blue Jackets scout Blake Geoffrion, who retired at age 25 after suffering a depressed skull fracture:

“I got to play with Blake for a number of years and got to know him well through the Montreal Canadiens organization. Obviously it’s a tough situation; you never want to see that happen to a player. It’s a tough bounce for him, but it’s only fitting that he ended his career in a Montreal Canadiens jersey, with the bloodlines and his family being part of such a rich history in the NHL.”

On the scariest moment he’s had on the ice:

“So many different things. Whether it’s a puck coming within the inch of your face flying 100 miles per hour. A skate almost slicing you. That’s the nature of the sport. Things happen, and they happen fast. You may not be able to react quick enough. Hockey’s a special sport, but it is dangerous.”

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On the best aspect of the Canadiens-Senators playoff series:

“Very intense. I think playing in an all-Canada series was very cool. I’d never done that before. An all-Canadian series going back and forth was unique. One national anthem before games. No offence to the United States, but I love the one national anthem before games. It gets you going. The crowd’s into it. The flag’s being tossed around in Ottawa. In Montreal, the roof’s getting torn off.

On how he will approach his contract year (redux):

“When I finished my entry level, I became an RFA and I dealt with the situation I got the way it needed to be handled, and I’m going to do the same this time. As far as I’m concerned, I have one year left on my contract. I’m going to play out the year and see where it takes me. I’m going to honour the contract I signed.”

On how he can use his Norris victory as negotiating leverage:

“There’s a lot of things that come into play when you talk about contracts in this league. That’s why I hired Donny Meehan as my agent. He’s somebody you can trust. He knows the game, knows the system and how it works. He’s got a great relationship with the Canadiens. Only time will tell what will happen. I wish I could give you an inside scoop, but I don’t have one right now. I’m focused on getting ready for the season, but it is kinda funny that we are talking about contract stuff again — five months after I signed a new deal. It’s pretty crazy.”

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