Saturday, July 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning-Predators pregame reading: New Preds defenseman P.K. Subban making big impression in Nashville

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — P.K. Subban already has belted out Folsom Prison Blues at Tootsie's, a famous honky tonk. He visited a children's hospital before training camp opened. Then he scored a goal in each of his first two preseason games with his new team.

In Nashville, that's called knowing how to make an entrance.

Subban's passion may not have gone over well with coaches and management with the Canadiens. His new teammates with the Predators see the defenseman as a perfect fit in Music City, a town built on entertainment and filled with fans who want a great show from a franchise now expected to go further than ever in chasing the Stanley Cup.

"Fans are going to love him, there's no question," Predators captain Mike Fisher said. "And our fans are very passionate. They're loyal. They're forgiving, too, even through the ups and downs. … It's not going to be long before he's a lot of people's favorite player."

Montreal and Nashville stunned the NHL on June 29 when they swapped star defensemen straight up, sending Predators captain Shea Weber north for the 2013 Norris Trophy winner. Talk surfaced of Subban having personality conflicts with the Montreal organization and inside the Canadiens' locker room, and he tried to make it clear that he loved Montreal, both the atmosphere and media in a town that loves its storied hockey team.

"At the end of the day, there's a lot of people who have microphones and pens and paper, and I can't challenge every person that has made an opinion of me based on 'facts,' " Subban said. "So for me, I'd rather just let my play do the talking, and I look forward to being a big part of this team moving forward. … I've always been one to let my actions do my talking for me."

Subban is busy making friends in his new locker room and learning his way around Nashville, a switch for a guy used to being the one who welcomes new players.

"It's an exciting time for me at 27 years old with no family or any children or anything like that," Subban said. "It's like you get a bunch of new brothers, right? So it's fun."

The Predators prefer to make up their own minds about Subban rather than listen to rumors. Fisher said it's easy to hear a lot of things about players and he believes Subban will fit in nicely.

"Everyone knows he's an outgoing guy that brings passion to the game, and sometimes (in) the game of hockey, (which is) a little bit laid back, it's something new, but I think it's a good thing," Fisher said.

Forward James Neal has had dinner with Subban and sees someone passionate about hockey and his fans. Subban's comfort with handling both the media and social media has been quickly noticed.

"He's going to be good for our team," Neal said.

Goaltender Pekka Rinne was shocked by the trade that sent his close friend Weber to Montreal.

"But all of a sudden you realize you're going to get P.K., all the potential and all the talent he brings," Rinne said. "He's going to bring a lot of different elements to our team and also the attention on him. He's very electric and a very exciting player to watch on the ice and off the ice. He's going to bring a different element to our team. It's good for the city of Nashville, the organization."

Nashville fans got a great look at Subban when the city hosted the All-Star weekend last season. Subban slipped on a wig to imitate Jaromir Jagr for lots of laughs during the breakaway challenge in the skills competition and ended up winning the event decided by a vote on Twitter.

The Predators went seven games in back-to-back series last spring in the postseason, and general manager David Poile saw Subban as the perfect combination of skating and speed for coach Peter Laviolette's attacking offense. The trade was criticized in Montreal because the Predators got the younger player in the deal. Poile thinks that speaks more to just how popular Subban was throughout Quebec.

"We've seen in the short time P.K.'s been here … he makes a lot of touches and he gets a lot of publicity," Poile said. "People gravitate to him because he's a hockey player, yes, but he has more going on his life, and he has some really good purposes in his life."

The Predators sold out a franchise-record 35 games last season, though the need to sell tickets never fades. Subban is more than happy to help sell the sport of hockey in his new winter home.

"At the end of the day, it's sports entertainment, and we have to perform to keep fans in the seats, and what they pay helps put food on our tables," Subban said. "The more people we can engage and bring into the game, the better our game is going to be."

A perfect fit indeed.

Comments
Hereís our Mount Rushmore for the Lightning

Hereís our Mount Rushmore for the Lightning

The Lightning just celebrated its 25th anniversary season — long enough to have a Mount Rushmore.Here it is:Marty St. Louis (2000-14)St. Louis is the all-time franchise leader in points and the only Lightning player to make the Hall of Fame aft...
Published: 07/13/18
Lightning names AHLís Derek Lalonde as new assistant

Lightning names AHLís Derek Lalonde as new assistant

The Lightning has completed Jon Cooper's coaching staff for the upcoming season, announcing on Thursday the hiring of Derek Lalonde, who spent the last two seasons as head coach of the American Hockey League's Iowa Wild.Lalonde, 45, has steadily work...
Published: 07/12/18
Lightning re-signs left wing Adam Erne to one-year contract

Lightning re-signs left wing Adam Erne to one-year contract

A busy few weeks of re-signing players continued Wednesday, as the Lightning brought back the last of their restricted free agents, signing left wing Adam Erne to a one-year, $800,000 contract for 2018-19.Erne, 23, was a second-round pick in 2013 and...
Published: 07/11/18
Lightning locks up Nikita Kucherov with 8-year, $76 million extension

Lightning locks up Nikita Kucherov with 8-year, $76 million extension

CLEARWATER — Nikita Kucherov could have waited a year, allowing the demand for a top young NHL scorer to escalate as he hit restricted free agency next summer.But when the Lightning made him an offer to become the highest-paid player in the tea...
Published: 07/10/18
Lightning signs Nikita Kucherov to richest contract in team history

Lightning signs Nikita Kucherov to richest contract in team history

The Lightning took another step toward securing its future Tuesday by announcing that right wing Nikita Kucherov will sign the richest contract in franchise history.Kucherov's eight-year contract extension will pay him an average of $9.5 million star...
Published: 07/10/18
Kucherov signing helps Lightning finish what it started

Kucherov signing helps Lightning finish what it started

TAMPA — The Erik Karlsson sweepstakes hasn't ended for the Lightning.But the Nikita Kucherov sweepstakes is over before it began.The Lightning has locked up its star right winger. An eight-year extension that begins in the 2019-20 season will p...
Published: 07/10/18
Meet the girl behind the Marty St. Louis sign

Meet the girl behind the Marty St. Louis sign

ST. PETERSBURG — When the call from the Hall came, there she was again.The girl with the "I (heart) U Marty" sign, in the newspaper again, this time on the cover of the June 27 Tampa Bay Times sports section. She was frozen in time, doing what ...
Published: 07/07/18
What might Lightning give up to get Erik Karlsson?

What might Lightning give up to get Erik Karlsson?

TAMPA — Shortly after the excitement of the real possibility Thursday night that the Lightning could be trading for defenseman Erik Karlsson, fans quickly came to an uneasy place: What exactly would Tampa Bay give up to get the two-time Norris ...
Published: 07/06/18
The Lightning advantage in Erik Karlsson trade talks

The Lightning advantage in Erik Karlsson trade talks

He wants to be here.This is the place.In case you'd missed it amid the gloom and doom of a Lightning season that came up short again, there are still people who want to play in Tampa Bay.One of them is Erik Sven Gunnar Karlsson of Landsbro, Sweden. T...
Published: 07/06/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Will the Lightning trade for Erik Karlsson?

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Will the Lightning trade for Erik Karlsson?

Rick Stroud returns from vacation to discuss reports that the Lightning will acquire star defenseman Erik Karlsson from the Ottawa Senators.He also talks about reaction to Jameis Winston's three-game suspension, the Rays' crazy home stand and which p...
Updated one month ago