The search is on for reasons why the Predators have gone from the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference to two victories away from winning it, and P.K. Subban has a thought that might not be obvious to the Predators locker-room outsider.
“It’s the feeling, you know?” Subban said of the confidence this team has with a 2-1 lead on the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference finals. “The chemistry our team has starts with, I believe, ownership and management. I believe that’s where it starts. Based on the atmosphere you create around the work premises and work environment is how guys are going to feel when they come in to the rink. If you’re going to treat guys in a way where they’re going to love coming to the rink every day and love working hard and practicing and getting better, that’s what’s going to happen. If you don’t create that environment, it makes things a little tougher.
“I think the Preds have done a great, great job of creating an atmosphere that makes guys want to play there, want to be there. And want to play long and into June and have an opportunity to win a Cup. Everybody loves it. I haven’t heard one bad thing from a player in terms of the city of Nashville, the organization or our coaches.”
Subban did not directly contrast his current situation with his former situation in Montreal, though he certainly had issues at times with management there. Here’s more from Subban in a recent interview with The Tennessean.
On the toughest moment of his first season in Nashville: “I was tested mentally with everything that happened early in the season. Being injured for six weeks, and one of the toughest things is switching teams, switching organizations, living in a different country. It’s like, it was a huge adjustment from everything. And then you mix in being injured for six weeks, it’s tough. Coming out of training camp I was a little banged up, then a little bit more banged up, then out, then came back and had to build slowly and work my way back up. And when you’re trying to build your niche within a team, that’s tough to do when you’re not playing and not around the guys all the time. I stayed positive, but that was probably the rockiest moment.”
On media criticism: “I’m not going to defend people who think they know me or think they know what it’s like to be around me in a locker room. At the end of the day, I don’t have the platform that media analysts have to talk on TV every day, the platform to defend myself. So I’m not even going to try. The success of our teams speaks volumes on the leadership we have in this dressing room. And since I’ve come to the team, they’ve made me feel like I’ve been a part of it for six years, you know? It’s been an easy transition. But as far as everything on the outside, I don’t need to defend anything; I do my talking on the ice. At the end of the day, if we win I’m happy. It’s a waste of my time. If my focus is anywhere but on our team and what we’re trying to accomplish, I’m not helping the team.”
On possibly bringing in new fans in a predominantly white sport: “I go out and do my job. If kids want to look up to me as a role model, that’s great. But I’ve always just been somebody who wanted to be recognized for what I do on the ice. Obviously I understand that there’s only a few black hockey players in the league, so people are going to talk about that regardless, and that’s fine. I know who I am, and I know what I represent. But at the end of the day, it’s hard enough playing in the National Hockey League to be playing for anything else other than to win and be part of a winning team.”
On dealing with racism: “That’s not a topic I would want to get into. No, if anything, you deal with more jealousy than anything. When you’re good, you’re going to deal with that.”
On Nashville living up to his expectations: “When you move to any city, take it for what it is, and since I’ve come here it’s been unbelievable. It’s been one of the best, I mean, if I didn’t miss my family as much, I’d live in Nashville 12 months a year. I love it; it’s great. But my family is in Toronto, so I have to go back and see them. But I’d love to spend my offseason in Nashville as well. Great weather, great people, great food. Not just the Southern food, the Southern food’s great, but sushi, Mexican, whatever, I’m a food person. I live in Brentwood. I go out to this place in Franklin called Red Pony. It’s an awesome place. I go there all the time. This is just a great place to live, great place to be young. I just love it.”