“We look forward to giving our fans a chance to celebrate his career and the impact he had (on Montreal),” Habs owner Geoff Molson says.
TEMPE, Ariz. — P.K. Subban is returning to the Bell Centre.
The former Canadiens defenceman isn’t coming out of retirement, but his former team has decided to honour him before a game at the Bell Centre on Jan. 12 against the Nashville Predators.
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Subban announced his retirement at age 33 before the start of this season and has taken a hockey analyst job with ESPN, signing a three-year contract with the U.S. TV network. He will work mainly as a studio analyst, but will also do some games during the season.
Subban played 13 seasons in the NHL and his first seven were with the Canadiens after they selected him in the second round (47th overall) of the 2007 NHL draft. Subban won the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenceman during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, when he posted 11-27-38 totals in 42 games and was plus-12. In summer 2014, Subban was rewarded with an eight-year, US$72-million contract from the Canadiens.
But former GM Marc Bergevin and former head coach Michel Therrien were not the biggest fans of Subban and his flamboyant personality and he was traded to the Nashville Predators on June 22, 2016, in exchange for Shea Weber.
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Weber’s career also looks like it’s over because of injuries and new Canadiens GM Kent Hughes traded him to the Vegas Golden Knights this past June in exchange for veteran forward Evgenii Dadonov. Weber didn’t play at all last season and he remains on long-term injured reserve with the Golden Knights, meaning his annual salary-cap hit of US$7.857 million doesn’t count against the team cap. Weber, 37, has three more seasons after this remaining on his 14-year, US$110-million contract and he is not expected to play again.
Subban will be honoured during a pregame ceremony on Jan. 12 and will also take part in a meet-and-greet with fans at the Bell Centre. During his time in Montreal, Subban also had a big impact off the ice, pledging to raise $10 million for the Montreal Children’s Hospital. The P.K. Subban Atrium remains part of the hospital.
“We are thrilled to welcome P.K. back to his first NHL home this January,” Canadiens owner, president and CEO Geoff Molson said in a statement. “We look forward to giving our fans a chance to celebrate his career and the impact he had — and continues to have — on the Montreal community. Whether it’s kids on local minor hockey teams choosing to wear No. 76, or the number of fans we see on any given night at the Bell Centre who still proudly wear their Subban jerseys, you don’t have to go far to understand the influence P.K. had on the popularity of the sport in Quebec.”