Thursday, December 09, 2010


The National Debate

3 games now PK Subban has had to sit out and watch the Canadiens roll to victory. 3 games he has been able to cheer on Yannick Weber as he releases shots the right way from the point.

And for the length of time it has taken to play 3 games, the media in Montreal, and to a surprising degree, the occasionally interested national media has been pontificating on the topic.

Subban should be benched, Subban shouldn't be benched. Jacques Martin is ruining a player. Jacques Martin is making a player. Blah, blah, blah.

I recognize that there are dry times for news. Times without suspensions, times without major injuries, controversies, etc. There's a lot of air time to fill. But honestly, all this talk about a 21-year-old defenceman sitting out a few games so another young D can be used this season as well. It's a bit mad.

Last night we got to discussing this. I don't think we netted out on whether this move was right or wrong for the team, for Subban. To be honest that wasn't really our debate. The hullabaloo around the debate was a much more engaging subject. In our discussion, a few main things came up:

1) The notion that Jacques Martin is obliged to stick with a winning lineup is strange.

To that, shouldn't the question: "Which winning line up?" be the next logical one off the tongue. Subban played in many an exciting and convincing win so far this season. Several times, he was a main reason for the win. To say he is not part of a winning line up is just nonsense.

2) The idea that Subban has to correct bad habits is a bit off base.

Really, apart from his inability to release a shot without a 3 second backswing, and the one-off headlong dive, I'm not sure what people are on about. His desire to handle the puck and rush is an asset to the Canadiens, more so on defense than on offense, as he frequently has calmed a storm with quick feet and strong puck protection. Hi propensity to "chat" on the ice is nothing new in hockey (despite suggestions to the contrary), the exception is perhaps he didn't wait out the "mandatory" rookie year to do it.

His habits can be seen as bad habits if you choose, but they can also be seen as assets. Frankly, I don't wish for him to change too much, as we already have enough simple-does-it defenders on the go.

3) The idea that this benching is a punishment for Subban is probably a conclusion that needs a rethink.
The tendency when any player is taken out of the lineup is that that player somehow failed to do something right and must be paying for it. IN this case, I'm not so sure.

I think Hamrlik, Spacek, Gill and Gorges are unbenchable just now (though I've made my opinion known about providing rotating rest). Between Subban, Picard and Weber, so far all have had to watch from the stands. Picard played well and sat for a while simply because of numbers. Weber was called up because he earned a chance to replace Markov, and had to sit until the time was right. Now Subban has a little break. I'm not sure what the actual machinations are behind this roster move. But let's not rule out the idea that Subban is being benched because the other two have been benched already. If Picard and Weber were absolutely without use, then this notion wouldn't hold much water. Turns out they aren't, and it does.

It's a malady of Habs fans and others to always see things from one angle. I wrote once on Carey Price's demotion as Jaroslav Halak's promotion, and the inability of others to see from that side of things. Here too, Weber has been promoted, given a chance he has earned. That side of the story is being overlooked a bit.

Anyway, sooner or later Subban will play again. Chances are we'll never know why this benching happened, or why it ended.

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