While some Habs’ fans are still moping over the trade that sent their beloved P.K. Subban to Nashville in return for Shea Weber, it seems like they are just a (loud) minority. At least, if you ask those around the NHL, where the consensus is that Marc Bergevin might have gotten the best on his counterpart David Poile.
With the hockey world coming out of its summer sleep, and with the focus having shifted towards the World Cup of hockey, some of the best players, coaches and managers in the world are praising the Canadiens’ newest acquisition, some going as far as taking a bit of a friendly jab at those who have yet to get over that trade.
For one, Team Canada’s head coach Mike Babcock didn’t have to be asked twice to show his man-crush on Bergevin’s acquisition, even though he will be a rival for the upcoming seasons with his own Toronto Maple Leafs.
When asked about the trade, Pekka Rinne is not so sure about it… and for good reasons. Subban led the NHL in giveaways last season with 106, compared to Weber’s 39 and we saw how that played out in Montreal without Carey Price to fix his defenseman’s mistakes. While the Predators’ goaltender knows that he will have his work cut out for himself, he’s also concerned about the dressing room:
Pekka Rinne says he worried about @PredsNHL dressing room. Says it's hard to lose a leader as strong as Weber. Still, excited about Subban.
— Sean Reynolds (@snseanreynolds) September 5, 2016
When questioned by Guillaume Lefrançois of La Presse, Columbus Blue Jackets and former Predators’ defenseman Seth Jones didn’t have to be asked twice to say what he thought of Weber either:
He was very important for me, he showed me a lot of things to help me become a professional, a good defenseman in this league. I’m not the only one who benefited from his help. When I got to Nashville, we had many young players. He was great at teaching us, at leading by example. Ekholm, Ellis and Josi were all young and look where they’re at.
To top it off, Montreal native Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who has been playing against Weber since joining the NHL and who has played with him at the 2014 Winter Olympics, made a mockery of reporters and fans who are questioning and who have yet to get over that trade:
We didn’t move on yet? Fans are still disappointed? They never saw Weber play? He played in 2010, 2014… no one watched the olympics evidently. He’s one of the best defensemen.
Even Carey Price was asked to weight in on Subban, just stopping short of saying that Subban could not (or refused to) play within the team’s system.
I was shocked like everyone else. But I had an idea that it was possible. The way our game is structured and the way P.K. plays… we’re headed in a different direction. P.K. is an offensive defenceman and a risk-taker. That’s made him successful, that’s the way he plays the game. He doesn’t want to change that and I respect that. I respect the way that he plays the game…his type of enthusiasm and his ability to raise fans out of their seats. That’s a special gift and something that not very many players are able to do. But the way we’re coached on our team, the way our team is structured, that’s not what we’re looking for. We’re looking for a steady type of defenceman that makes quick plays and is able to move the puck right away. Shea fits that bill perfectly.
If you haven’t done so already, I strongly suggest you read Elliotte Friedman‘s article on the Subban and Weber trade (amongst others) called The 23 minutes that shook the hockey world.
Yes, those who think that Subban can do no wrong will put the blame on head coach Michel Therrien because that’s the cool thing to do, but reality is that Therrien is one of the reasons why Subban has become a better overall defenseman throughout his stay with the Canadiens. Still, the Canadiens’ brass knew that in order to take the next step in his career, to be considered one of the league’s best, to be selected on prestigious teams like Team Canada, he had to improve on his turnovers and to do that, he had to pass the puck quicker instead of trying to do it all himself. Subban didn’t think so.
Never did the coaching staff asked Subban not to join the rush. They were asking him to pass the puck to the forwards, let them get the puck in and pick his time to support the offense by joining the rush. Subban refused to do so and at this level, if you’re trying to get through a couple of guys, more often than not, they will get you to cough up the puck, resulting in turnovers.
So folks, let’s take off the blinders, stop seeing those who can acknowledge that Weber is a better all-around defenseman than Subban as “haters” and admit that while the colourful defenseman has many great qualities, he also had some serious flaws. Him not being invited on Team Canada was not political, it was not a conspiracy against him, it’s simply that he is too much of a risk and he can’t seem to be able (or willing) to play within a team concept, a system.
Listen to NHL players and executives and give Weber and this newly revamped Canadiens a chance to prove that they are indeed a much better team without Subban and Lars Eller, and with Weber, Andrew Shaw, Alexander Radulov and Al Montoya.