P.K. Subban is an electrifying player, and thus becomes a lightning rod for fans and media members who think hockey should be played “the right way.”
Sometimes this results in cringe-worthy moments of analysis. On Friday, Subban came under fire before Game 2 as NBCSN panelists Keith Jones and Mike Milbury were discussing his great Game 1 performance.
When the mic turned back to Milbury and the camera replayed Subban dancing a bit during warm-ups, he let loose on a weird rant.
A transcript, for the video-impaired:
“He’s got a tremendous personality and sometimes you’ve got to keep it under control. I know it’s a new day and age and everybody wants to be on Instagram or Twitter. But you’ve got to keep focus. This is a tough game. When I see this I start to think maybe (Predators coach) Peter Laviolette ought to give him a rap on the head and say, ‘Hey P.K. focus in, we’ve got a game tonight and you don’t have to be a clown out there.’
And he will. He’s been a clown in the past and we’ve seen him act like a clown but when he’s serious and focused he’s one hell of a player.”
A couple of things here.
First, dancing a little in warm-ups doesn’t determine how good Elite Hockey Athlete Player-Man P.K. Subban is during a playoff game. Keith Jones rightly called Milbury out on this point. If you think Subban is doing that just to get on TV ... I don’t know what to tell you. Jones pointed out that Subban always warms up a little differently. And anyway, who cares!
Secondly, it's more than a little uncomfortable to hear a white broadcaster implore a white head coach to go to his star black athlete and "rap him on the head." It's the poorest of poor choice of words and, frankly, irresponsible.
- The NHL is a fringe sport.
- The NHL is a fun-freaking-tastic sport to watch.
- The NHL has some electrifying stars and infectious personalities.
- Subban happens to be at the top of that list.
- Hockey’s “head down, team-first” culture is, and always has been, boring. Effective. Admirable. But boring.
- The NHL can’t fix No. 1 if No. 5 doesn’t stop trying to suffocate the personalities like No. 4 out of the game.
Disclosure: Comcast’s NBCUniversal, which NBC Sports is a part of, is a minority investor in Vox Media, which owns SB Nation.