Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

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.

Lightning-Predators pregame reading: New Preds defenseman P.K. Subban making big impression in Nashville 10/08/16 [Last modified: Friday, October 7, 2016 11:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Ryan Callahan encouraged by his return

    Blogs

    Captain Steven Stamkos wasn't the only key Lightning player to make a triumphant return Friday night against Nashville.

  2. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Friday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    RHP Alex Cobb hates to hear how he "battled through" or "grinded out" a start rather than just dominated, but that's kind of what he did Friday, allowing nine hits and a walk and being charged with two wild pitches but only three runs in earning his 12th win.

  3. Lightning's Steven Stamkos looks close to top form in first game since November

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The wait felt like forever for Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, having gone 10 months without playing in a game.

    A scramble in front of the Lightning goal has Matthew Peca, far left, and Erik Cernak, middle, helping out goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy during the third period of a 3-1 win against the Predators. Vasilevskiy, who made 29 saves, was “exceptional,” coach Jon Cooper says.
  4. Rays journal: Alex Cobb may have pitched last game in Rays uniform (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — RHP Alex Cobb pitched well enough to lead the Rays to an 8-3 win over the Orioles on Friday.

    Wilson Ramos gives thanks after hitting a grand slam during the second inning, putting the Rays up 4-0.
  5. Ww's Odessabeach makes run at Husker Magic stakes final

    Parimutuels

    ST. PETERSBURG — When Hurricane Irma blew through Florida earlier this month, Ww's Odessabeach remained in her comfort zone.