P.K. Subban Image Credit: ShutterStock

P.K. Subban’s Influential, and Polarizing, Legacy Stands Tall

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P.K. Subban loved the game.

Unfortunately, sometimes the game, a sport that fiercely stomps out individuality, didn’t love him back as an individual.

In professional sports, some players hang around too long while others get out while the getting is good.

P.K. Subban is the latter.

Earlier this week, the New Jersey Devils defenseman shook up the hockey world by retiring at the age of 33 (apparently, Tuesday was the day for stalwart blueliners to hang it up).

During his career, Subban scored 115 goals and 467 points in 824 regular-season games with the Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators and the Devils. He won a Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman, a King Clancy Memorial Trophy (an award presented annually “to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community”), an Olympic Gold Medal with Team Canada and became a three-time NHL All-Star.

He also made a Stanley Cup Final appearance.

“I never looked at myself or ever felt I was ‘just a hockey player,’” Subban tweeted. “I always looked at myself as a person who happened to play hockey.

“Having that perspective allowed me to enjoy every shift like it was my last, celebrate every goal with emotion and play every game as if someone paid to watch me who had never seen me play before.”

Yet for all his humbleness, Subban could actually go down as hockey’s most influential player ever.

During the 2017 NHL All-Star Game, Subban suited up with fellow Black NHLers Wayne Simmonds (the game’s MVP), Seth Jones and forward Kyle Okposo.

And, perhaps most importantly, the Toronto native brought the type of Blackness hockey purists hadn’t seen in the sport previously. He was hockey’s version of Allen Iverson, Michigan’s Fab Five and the Williams Sisters in terms of upsetting hockey’s traditional gatekeepers while wowing fans who wanted to see more of themselves in the sports they love.

Brash behavior.

Fashion sense.

Unapologetically Black.

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