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Morning Skate: P.K. Subban's injury made the hockey world gasp

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Subban has earned the respect he received last night.

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

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Lace 'em up. Time for the Morning Skate.

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Remember the first few NHL seasons with P.K. Subban in the league? It wasn't smooth sailing.

I still remember the outcries after Subban fought Brenden Morrow just three years ago and made a lewd gesture at him in the penalty box. (Note: I called it a noogie gesture in that post. In hindsight, it clearly wasn't. I was young and naive.) When he broke onto the scene (and even a few years after he established himself) he had people claiming he didn't respect the game. He was too flashy, right?

Clearly public opinion has changed (and rightfully so). Subban has won us all over with his charms and good nature on and off the ice. Maybe I shouldn't have been surprised by the overwhelming concerned reaction to his scary injury on Thursday. After all, any player who goes through something that painful and gut-wrenching will soften the hearts of even his fiercest detractors. But scan Twitter for Subban's well-wishers this morning and you'll find a plethora of comments about how he's "great for the game" or "one of the best things about hockey" or "I hate the Habs but I love Subban".

Perhaps I'm just cynical about fans in general, but I honestly don't think those kind of sentiments would've flowed a few years ago. Subban won over a lot of people immediately, but he had to earn that respect and adoration from many more (whether their disdain was irrational or not). Few players in pro sports can get injured and cause a collective gasp from every fanbase. Subban did so last night, and it's further proof he's become the heart and soul of the NHL for many.


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