The Superstar Subban Family

Despite awards and accolades, P.K. remains rooted in family values

By Jason Santerre

As hockey mad Quebeckers, we don’t need much convincing that hockey is a special sport. Our love for the game on ice goes beyond that sublime combination of finesse, grit and an 82-game grind. It’s about blood and the ties that bind. Off the ice and behind the scenes, hockey is entrenched in family. From carpooling and organizing bake sales to coaching peewee or just getting the kids out of bed in time for pre-dawn practice, most pro skaters owe their careers to Mom and Dad and the sacrifices they made.

“It’s a lot of hard work on their part,” says P.K. Subban. “Hockey moms are famous for getting their kids to those 5 a.m. practices in freezing, run-down rinks.” Pernell Karl Subban looks back with fondness. He says all of those road trips to hockey tournaments and hockey camps were a chance for the whole family to bond and spend quality time together. And then came great success, a kind of success even the most casual Montreal Canadiens’ fan is familiar with.

At just 24 years old, P.K. has played over 200 regular season games racking up 32 goals and 82 assists along the way. Known for his confidence (less than gracious opponents might call it cockiness), a buzzing slapshot, and a willingness to carry the puck from end to end with speed and panache, P.K. added the Norris to his trophy case, winning the award as last season’s top defenseman. But looking back on his early days, P.K. says there was never any pressure to make the NHL. “Honestly, it never came up,” he says. “Both my mom and dad were just happy seeing their son doing what he loved.”

P.K.’s father, Karl Subban, recently retired from a 30-year career as a principal in the Toronto school system. “Working with kids his whole life definitely helped him keep all of us on the right track,” says young Subban. But whatever Subban senior’s formula, it’s working. In the 2012 NHL entry draft, the Boston Bruins selected Malcolm, a highly touted goaltender, and one year later, the Vancouver Canucks drafted Jordan, a defenseman.

“We owe a lot to our parents,” says P.K., referring to his brothers and his two sisters, Nastassia and Natasha, both of whom played university basketball and became teachers, much to their father’s delight. No doubt Karl Subban is proud of all five of his children and what they’ve accomplished through sport, but with a background in education, he is most proud of his children’s willingness to give back.

Enter the Hyundai Hockey Helpers program. The initiative helps a minimum of 1,000 kids get into organized hockey every year. In partnership with KidSport, a national not-for-profit organization, Hyundai Hockey Helpers provides financial assistance to help kids cover sports registration fees and the cost of equipment. As any hockey parent knows, the sport is not cheap like, say, soccer or even softball. Last year, 1,800 kids were helped across Canada with 339 in Quebec alone.

“It’s been a huge success so far,” says P.K., the ambassador for Hyundai Hockey Helpers. “Seeing how many kids we actually help is great. If we can keep kids active and help them with basic life skills, it’s a win-win situation.” P.K. says the program not only allows him to give back, but it shifts the focus from his celebrity status. “For once, it’s not just about me, and that’s really refreshing when you’re always in the spotlight.”

Between meetings, interview requests, charity events and readying himself for the opening of the Canadiens’ training camp, there’s no denying P.K. is both a brand and a man in demand. As for the spotlight, he knows there is extra pressure on not only the team heading into the new NHL season but that the reigning Norris Trophy winner will need to prove the award was no fluke.

“That’s what’s great about playing in Montreal,” says the man who grew up a Habs fan in the not-so-friendly confines of Toronto. “If we start the season 5 and 0, we’re winning the cup. If we go 0 and 5, it’s ‘trade everyone!’ But that’s Montreal,” he says with a laugh. “Hockey is religion here, and that makes it a very special place to play hockey.”

Fall 2013, Vol 5 N°4

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