2011 NHL Playoffs: Rookie P.K. Subban Is Leading Montreal, On and Off the Ice

Mark RitterSenior Writer IApril 17, 2011

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 14:  P.K. Subban #76 of the Montreal Canadiens looks to pass against the Boston Bruins in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on April 14, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

When Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban arrived on the scene in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs, his presence was instantly felt.

Immediately there was an aura surrounding Subban that few NHL players possess, never mind a rookie.

Blessed with great hockey instincts, Subban brings a number of other attributes to the rink on a nightly basis, none more important than his confidence, which judging by his play thus far, has served him very well.

Subban took a lot of criticism from the media and opposing players for his loud, sometimes brash comments on the ice. While those days do not seem to be completely behind the soon-to-be 22-year-old, it appears as if he has learned a measure of respect for his peers and the ability to turn the other cheek when challenged by his opponent.

In listening to Subban’s post-game comments last night, I was impressed he said all the right things. Simply put, Subban's comments were pure class, hardly the thing you would expect from a guy who has enraged so many veteran foes over the course of his career.

When asked about the mood of the group, Subban said, "It's not over, we've got more hockey left to play."

It's not really what Subban said here, but what he didn't say that makes his comments so impressive. He could have fallen into the trap of boasting about taking two games at the TD Garden, all but icing the series for the Canadiens.

Fact is though, Subban took the high road, and that shows a lot of maturity.

When asked about being a target and the one-on-one battles he and Bruins forward Milan Lucic had been involved in during Saturday night's game, Subban again responded with confidence and class saying, "(Lucic)'s a world class player. I'm just trying to do my job."

Just trying to do your job?

Is this the same guy who had Philadelphia Flyers forward Mike Richards chomping at the bit over whether or not he was being disrespectful to veteran players?

Is this the same guy who was benched by his coach early in the season for being a little too overzealous?

While I was one of the fans out there who appreciated what Subban was doing, his latest actions serve notice that perhaps young Subban has matured over the course of the season.

Not afraid to address his own shortcomings (if there have been any for him during the series with the Bruins) when asked if he felt he was doing his job to perfection, Subban once again said all the right things by responding, "Nope, I still got room for improvement. I took a stupid penalty today, so I gotta stay out of the box and not cost my team."

Clearly, this is a player who has bought into his coach's plan 150 percent. Gone is the controversial Subban, the irresponsible kid who six months ago, may very well have been spewing out stupid comments both on and off the ice.

Don't get me wrong, Subban is still getting under the collar of a few Bruins players, but he is doing it in the right way by making his point and quickly excusing himself from the situation.

Through two playoff games against the Bruins, Subban leads the Canadiens in shifts per game with 33 and in ice time, averaging 27:06 per contest. He is an "even" player, has only two penalty minutes to his name and by all accounts, looks to have emerged as a budding superstar in this league.

Yes, young rookies and sophomores take notice; P.K. Subban is setting the bar for professionalism and performance in these playoffs.

Who would have thunk it?