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‘P.K., P.K.’: Canadiens fans give Subban lengthy standing ovation on his special night

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‘P.K., P.K.’: Canadiens fans give Subban lengthy standing ovation on his special night
The Montreal Canadiens held a special tribute for former player P.K. Subban. Habs and Predators fans came to witness the players' send off right before both teams faced off. Global's Gloria Henriquez has details of the tribute and fan reaction. – Jan 13, 2023

P.K. Subban received a hero’s welcome in Montreal on Thursday night ahead of the Canadiens’ game against the Nashville Predators.

The Montreal Canadiens organization paid a special tribute to the now retired defenceman, who spent seven of his 13 NHL seasons with the Habs.

In a short video, highlights of Subban’s distinguished career in Montreal on and off the ice played across the big screen.

He was described as one of the most electrifying players to ever don the Canadiens jersey.

That energy was palpable when Subban stepped on to centre ice to a standing ovation and chants of “P.K.! P.K.!”

Subban thanked the Habs organization and addressed his fans directly.

“I always felt that we had an understanding that when you wear the Montreal Canadiens jersey … that you play with the same passion that you fans bring every single night to this building.”

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He also had a message for current and future players.

“These guys will love you no matter what, if you leave it all on the ice. So leave it on the ice every night.”

In true Subban fashion, he shifted attention away from himself and back to a cause that is close to his heart: The Montreal Children’s Hospital.

Accompanying him on ice, sitting in a wheelchair, was a little girl that he introduced as his friend Mila from the Children’s Hospital.

Sensing her jitters, Subban got the crowd to chant out her name and was rewarded with a beaming smile on Mila’s face as she turned to look up at him.

In 2015, Subban pledged to raise $10 million for the hospital and his fundraising efforts continued in the years after he was traded first to the Nashville Predators and then the New Jersey Devils.

As he left the ice, Subban was greeted by none other than star goaltender and former teammate Carey Price, with the two exchanging a series of trademark low-fives.

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It’s been nearly seven years since Subban played in Montreal but his loyal fan base remains.

The Roger family from Quebec wearing their Subban jerseys. Thursday, Jan. 12, 2022. Gloria Henriquez/Global News. Gloria Henriquez/Global News

The Roger family continued to follow his career and came to watch the tribute in person, each donning a Subban jersey from the different teams he played on.

James Lemmon came all the way from Nashville for Thursday’s game, not only as a Predators fan but a Subban fan.

“I’m glad that he’s getting the reception here that he deserves,” Lemmon said. “We loved him. It was weird to see him go. We didn’t expect that trade, I bet the same as Montreal didn’t expect the Weber trade.”

Natey Bicher, a 16-year-old, from Montreal’s West Island, can attest to that.

He had dreams of one day playing with Subban.

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Click to play video: 'P.K. Subban leaves lasting legacy in Montreal'
P.K. Subban leaves lasting legacy in Montreal

“When I heard stories of him playing outside with fans in the street… I would sit outside waiting for him to come with a stick just hitting a ball back and forth out the net,” he said.

“And then when he got traded, it was a huge bummer.”

Natey Bicher shows off his Subban jersey in Montreal on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2022. Gloria Henriquez/Global News. Gloria Henriquez/Global News

Subban was also one of the very few Black players in the NHL. His father is Jamaican and his mother is from Montserrat.

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As the son of immigrants, he inspired many with his accomplishments, including Ryan Weekes who is part of what is known as the unofficial P.K. Subban fan club. It’s a group of about 30 people who got together to watch all his games and hold fundraisers for his foundation.

“To be a colour person playing hockey and to make it to where he has is a big accomplishment for all of us, and that’s why basically for us, as coloured people and also Canadian, white people, all races… to love P.K. is special.”

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The Canadiens beat the visiting Predators 4-3, with Cole Caufield scoring two goals.

— with files from Global News’ Gloria Henriquez

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