There are many clichés out there to describe the importance of team play and team chemistry and we’ve all heard them many times. However, while a cliché might not make for great topics of discussions, it doesn’t take away its validity. Henry Ford once said: “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself. Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” The great basketball superstar Michael Jordan had this to say: “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships”
Many people of my generation were raised on the principles of respect for others and no sense of entitlement. There is no “I” in TEAM, is one that we have heard over and over again. My own father, a man of great philosophy who can turn anything into mental images, has taught me a multitude of anecdotes. He once taught me that “A snowflake is one of God’s most fragile creations, but look what they can do when they stick together.” You see, teamwork divides the task and doubles the success but to achieve that, all must be on the same page.
It doesn’t seem to be the case with the Montreal Canadiens and we just had a blatant example recently when the players voted for their King Clancy award candidate. For those who are not familiar with this award, the King Clancy Memorial Trophy is awarded annually to the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and who has made a significant humanitarian contribution to his community.
Fans and media alike were all expecting P.K. Subban to not only be the Habs’ candidate, but to be a slam dunk to win this NHL award after he committed to donating an astounding $10 million to the Montreal Children’s Hospital, for what was qualified as the biggest philanthropic commitment by a sports figure in Canadian history. Shockingly, Max Pacioretty was voted by the players in the dressing room as THEIR King Clancy representative!
A clear message
How is that even possible? As we have touched on before, Subban is no stranger to controversy but fans and media alike are puzzled by such news, myself included. Even people who, up until now, have been blaming Marc Bergevin for his bridge deal and Michel Therrien for his “handling of Subban” to the point of wanting him fired over it, have no choice but to revisit their stance as clearly, something in Subban’s behaviour away from the cameras is not sitting well with his own teammates.
Subban is, in front of the cameras, an outstanding individual and a very, very good hockey player. He always says and does the right things, or so it seems. What is it that he does away from the cameras that would justify his own friends and teammates to slap him in the face that way? I don’t believe it’s jealousy, not one bit. Let’s try to stop ourselves from making judgements without knowing what goes on inside the team and pretend that we know. The fact is that we don’t know. But one thing seems clear: there seems to be something that players don’t like about the colourful and outspoken All-Star defenseman.
Remember when we talked about Pacioretty and Subban not seeing eye to eye? It seems like it’s more than just between the two men, that Subban has a dressing room against him. Remember that the players also voted Pacioretty as team captain while many fans wanted the star defenseman to get the captaincy.
A potential trade
While everyone including management would prefer for Subban and the team to sort out their difference, fans and media don’t know if that’s possible so for that reason, yes there is a chance that Marc Bergevin could trade him prior to July 1st, when his no-movement clause kicks in. If that were the case, you would have a lot of teams kicking tires but in my opinion, few would make more sense and would have the necessary assets to give up than the Edmonton Oilers.
I’m not going to speculate on what the return could or should be for Subban but if he was to be traded, it would create a huge hole on the team’s top pairing and for that reason, a quality top-4 defenseman would have to come back. We also know that the Canadiens are in dire need of goals scoring so a top line forward would have to be on his way to Montreal. Could the first round picks of both teams be involved? Absolutely.
The Oilers have Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl as their top-2 centres and they will likely trade Ryan Nugent-Hopkins this summer to get help on defense. But with the Canadiens already having Galchenyuk, Plekanec, Desharnais, Eller and Danault for their top-3 centres, it’s unlikely that they’d want RNH, who is a younger but more injury-prone Plekanec. But if Nugent-Hopkins is traded elsewhere by the Oilers, they would need a third line centre and they have shown interest in Lars Eller. Could a Subban-Eller package be heading to Edmonton? I believe that it’s a possibility.
Pierre LeBrun was stating earlier this week that this summer could be the busiest summer in NHL history, with teams knowing that the expansion draft is coming up in a year from now GM’s wanting to plan on their protected list early and in-season trades are more difficult to make than in the summer when everyone has cap space. Expect Bergevin and the Canadiens to be part of those changes and please, please keep an open mind and understand that IF (and that’s a big IF) Subban is traded, it’s not as much management and coaching, but rather a matter of dressing room issues. While the cliché that it’s easier to fire a coach than to trade an entire team is true, it’s also easier to trade one player than 20.