Montreal

P.K. Subban trade hits Montreal's black community hard

Fans of the Montreal Canadiens might not be taking the P.K. Subban trade very well, but for members of the city's black community, the loss goes beyond hockey.

'He gives hope to many many black youth,' community organizer says

For Kevin Altidor, who is headed to France to play professional hockey, said P.K. Subban served as a role model. (CBC)

Fans of the Montreal Canadiens might not be taking the P.K. Subban trade very well, but for members of the city's black community, the loss goes beyond hockey.

Many regret the departure of a man who served as a role model and a voice for black people in Montreal.

"I have a feeling that the Montreal Canadiens' management didn't weigh out the pros and cons," said Michael Farkas, the director of Little Burgundy's Youth in Motion.

 P.K. really signified a new era of inclusion.- Michael Farkas

"He is a role model. He gives hope to many black youth that they can actually play at the level."

To Kevin Altidor, who is headed to France to play professional hockey, the trade is not just bad hockey-wise.

"Around Montreal, so many fans, so many people became fans of the Habs because of P.K. Subban," he said.

"Because he was something different, something new — a different race."

Many in Montreal's black community are raising questions on the role race played in the P.K. Subban trade. Former Habs player Georges Laraque and Nydia Dauphin, member of the Montreal Noir collective, weigh in. 11:34

Altidor has been playing hockey since he was five years old. Throughout that time, he says, there weren't many black NHL hockey players to look up to. 

And none were as successful, or as exciting, as Subban.
Youth in Motion director Michael Farkas says Subban was more than just a hockey player, especially to black youth. (CBC)

"I was pretty surprised [by the trade] to be honest because I thought he was one of the most important pieces of the team," he said.

For Farkas, Subban changed how people view black hockey players.

"As we know, the NHL hasn't had many black players throughout its history compared to the NBA or the NFL," he said.

"So in those regards, P.K. really signified a new era of inclusion."

About the Author

Sarah Leavitt

Journalist

Sarah Leavitt is a journalist with CBC Montreal.