P.K. Subban Talks NHL Return, Charities with Lindsey Vonn, More in B/R Exclusive

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMay 8, 2020

New Jersey Devils' P.K. Subban is seen while there is a break in play during an NHL hockey game against the St. Louis Blues Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Billy Hurst)
Billy Hurst/Associated Press

P.K. Subban misses you too, hockey fans. 

The New Jersey Devils defenseman spoke to Bleacher Report about what it would mean to return to the ice without fans present in the arenas amid the coronavirus pandemic. While he recognized "the right answer is to say, at the end of the day, we have to go out there and do what we have to do as professionals," he knows how "tough" it will be to do so without one of the best parts of sports:

"One of the best parts of being a professional athlete is being engaged in big games and feeling the energy from fans and the energy in the building and feeding off of it. Playing in a city like Montreal that I played in for so many years and the passion in that fanbase, and then going to Nashville, and everybody saw what the Stanley Cup Final was like in Nashville. It would definitely change the feeling for professional athletes playing without fans."

While Subban was a Norris Trophy winner with the Montreal Canadiens and three-time All-Star who helped lead the Nashville Predators to the Stanley Cup Final in 2017, he was starting to find his footing in his first season with the Devils before play was suspended.

He notched an assist in each of his last three games, and the Devils are an impressive 10-5-4 since the start of February.

They are still in last place in the Metropolitan Division and would be on the outside of an expanded 24-team playoff—which Larry Brooks of the New York Post reported was a possibility for the NHL to determine a Stanley Cup champion—but simply returning to the ice would give Subban and his team a chance to continue the momentum they were generating.

As much as he would like to start playing again, Subban knows there are more important things at stake.

"There's a lot of balls up in the air still," he said. "It's definitely tough. You don't want to be inconsiderate to the things that are happening right now and people's safety and wellbeing because that has to come first."

Even though hockey has stopped, Subban has found plenty of ways to spend his time while staying home with his fiancee, who just so happens to be one of the best skiers in the sport's history.

Lindsey Vonn and Subban have worked out every weekday, continued creating content for their social media pages and even tried their hands as a hairstylist and makeup artist. Subban posted a YouTube video titled "My Quarantine Haircut Challenge" in which he agreed to let Vonn cut his hair only if she allowed him to put on her makeup.

"If I can be frank with you, there's a part of that video that probably doesn't really do the whole thing justice," he said with a laugh. "Because I was dead serious nervous."

Vonn was only allowed to cut his hair if she called Patrice Alexander, who has been Subban's barber for years, to walk her through the process.

"He travels wherever I am on the road during the season to cut my hair, so I'm pretty strict," he said. "No one has touched my hair other than my barber for the past eight or nine years, so Linsdey is the only other person that's ever cut my hair during that time. It wasn't a full haircut, but trust me, there were some edits out of that. It got a little heated a couple times."

Turns out, the three-time Olympic medalist with 82 World Cup event victories on her resume is also a decent hairstylist and much more successful than Subban was when he tried putting makeup on her.

"To be honest, she did a pretty good job," he said. "I can't even bash her that much. She definitely did a better job of cutting my hair than I did doing her makeup. That's for sure."

Next up, she might have to teach him some ski moves before winter rolls around again:

U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team @usskiteam

We’re sorry you didn’t make the 2020-21 team nominations cut this year, @PKSubban1...but there’s always next year?! Keep working on that tuck (at least you live with one of the best teachers out there)! 😅🥴🎥: @lindseyvonn https://t.co/eGuRvsfsRb

When they aren't working on hair and makeup, Subban and Vonn have continued their charitable efforts during the coronavirus pandemic. He stressed how important it is to "try to help people through this time" and said even things like posting amusing content on social media will "keep our fanbase engaged during this time, give them something positive to look forward to. I think that's the most important thing."

They have also donated meals to those in need, generated awareness and continued their work through the P.K. Subban Foundation and Lindsey Vonn Foundation.

Subban has a long history of philanthropy that includes helping children through that foundation, donating $10 million to the Montreal Children's Hospital in 2015 and creating the Blue-line Buddies program as a member of the Predators that helped bring together low-income families and law enforcement.

Yet he was more interested in praising Vonn for her efforts than receiving recognition for his and specifically mentioned the career day initiatives she has done through her foundation on her YouTube page. She is virtually bringing together young Lindsey Vonn Foundation scholarship winners with experts in the fields in which they're interested in working and even did one with Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson.

"Individually, this has given us time to find different cool ways to engage with people and help people, more importantly," Subban said.

The charitable efforts from Subban and Vonn also come at a time when the Devils announced they will donate 10,000 tickets for the 2020-21 season to the RWJBarnabas Health front-line health care workers in New Jersey to show appreciation for all the work they have done and difficulties they have faced amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"I want to give a shout out to the owners of the Devils," Subban said when mentioning chairman and governor Josh Harris, vice chairman and alternate governor David Blitzer and CEO Scott O'Neil.

"It's pretty cool to be in this time and have owners who step up and take care of people," he continued. "For me, personally, for my foundation I've done a lot over my career and try to continue to make that impact, but when you have the people who pay you see a need to do that stuff too it's really cool. I'm definitely proud of the organization for doing that."

Given how much he loves playing in front of the fans, Subban surely cannot wait to play in front of those health care workers next season.