Why P.K. Subban became one of Montreal's most beloved adopted sons

In a city used to seeing its beloved stars move on to other franchises, this trade felt noticeably different. What was it that so endeared Subban to Habs fans and the larger community in Montreal?

Montreal reeling as one of its superstars packs his bags for Nashville

Never one to hide his feelings, P.K. Subban hugged Habs captain Max Pacioretty earlier this year in response to reports that they didn't like each other. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

One of the biggest sports personalities to hit Montreal in decades, P.K. Subban was adored, and news he'd been traded rumbled across Montreal like an earthquake Wednesday afternoon. 

In a city used to seeing its beloved stars move on to other franchises, this trade felt noticeably different. What was it that so endeared Subban to Habs fans and the larger community in Montreal?

Many attribute that affection to Subban's legacy that extended far beyond the Bell Centre.

Here's a look back at Subban's more memorable moments and some of the reasons Montreal fell in love with the suave defenceman. 

1. His mad skills

It's hard to miss P.K. on the ice: his fast footwork, his long rushes to the net from across the rink, his electric-charged slapshot. He can change a game and turn the tides in a split second, and his enthusiasm is infectious. 

A late-season injury meant the Canadiens closed a disappointing season without P.K., but fans will surely remember some of his Hab highlights long after he puts on the Predators jersey next fall. 

2. His $10-million promise

Subban made headlines across Canada when he made one of the biggest donations ever by a Canadian athlete. His foundation committed to raise $10 million to the Montreal Children's Hospital. In turn, the hospital named the atrium in its new building in his honour. Montrealers beamed with pride at the generosity of one of their favourite adopted sons. 

"Montreal has become my second home," Subban told the crowd at the official ceremony announcing his financial pledge. "I hope to remain here, here in Montreal, here in Quebec, for a very, very long time."

P.K. Subban donates $10M to Montreal Children's Hospital

7 years ago
Duration 3:02
The Montreal Canadiens defenceman says the mega donation is "about how I live my life , what's important in life."

3. His accessibility 

Many Montrealers have stories of encounters with Subban, who always seemed genuinely pleased to interact with them — even those who had little interest in hockey. 

One of the best moments? His impromptu street hockey game with a group of kids in Westmount last spring. 

P.K Subban surprises street hockey game in Montreal

7 years ago
Duration 1:39
Montreal Canadiens star drops in on a street game of shinny after having dinner nearby

4. His sense of humour

P.K.'s jokester personality and general ease in front of the camera endeared him to many a Montrealer. Whether it was his silly yet competitive throw-downs with his teammates on HabsTV or his Don Cherry impression, Subban is the king of not taking yourself too seriously, even if you are a sports superstar. 

His sense of humour even landed him a hosting spot at a gala at this year's Just For Laughs comedy festival, joining the ranks of other 2016 gala hosts Nathan Lane, Carrie Fisher and David Cross.

5. His attempt to learn French

Toronto-born Subban made a point of trying to speak in French at news conferences, even if it was just a few words, in part to show his commitment to the city.

In a town resigned to unilingual anglophone superstars, Subban's efforts were not overlooked. 

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6. His dapper sense of style

Off the ice, Subban never failed to turn heads with a seemingly endless collection of slick suits, many from Montreal tailor Sartorialto. His keen sense of style even inspired a suit deal with Canadian retailer RW & Co.

7. His sense of community

Subban often said he wants his legacy to be more than just memories of a good hockey player. So he made a point of leveraging his celebrity and social-media acumen to raise awareness and funds for causes he holds dear. 

Last Christmas, Subban challenged everyone from tiny tots to the prime minister to a pan-Canadian Jingle Bells sing-off to brighten up the season for kids in hospital.

The result was an adorable viral video that dovetailed into a holiday-dreams-come-true makeover of the Montreal Children's Hospital. 

Even the coldest of hearts (and some of the more ardent Leafs fans) felt their hearts grow two sizes larger watching the results of Subban's effort. 

(photo credits: Canadian Press, Aaron Fraser)


Melinda Dalton is a digital journalist at CBC Montreal.