Tuesday, April 8, 2014
PK vs. the Coach
There's been a shift in the public perception of the relationship between Canadiens coach Michel Therrien and star defenceman PK Subban - not a seismic shift, but enough movement that it's noteworthy.
The benching of Subban for all but 37 seconds of the first period in Ottawa two games ago was greeted by the usual knee jerk incredulity on Twitter, with fans and media alike clamoring for Therrien's head on a stick. But after Subban delivered another lacklustre effort Saturday against Detroit, sober second thought took root, and people not blinded by the residual gleam of last year's Norris Trophy started giving current events priority over marginally recent history. Subban hasn't been the same player this season, and at some point, he has to be held accountable. If Therrien is coming down harder on Subban than he is on other players, it's because more is expected of Subban. Blaming coaching or defence partners doesn't wash with a player who has the natural gifts to adapt and excel even in the most extraordinary circumstances, and there's nothing extraordinary about what Therrien is asking of any of his players.
Subban's talent is beyond dispute. What's being tested now is his professionalism, and how he responds to what the coach demands of him in the playoffs will speak volumes about his character development.