Subban makes grand entrance in Nashville

Associated Press
Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban, left, speaks at a news conference Monday in Nashville, Tenn. Subban was acquired from the Montreal Canadiens in a trade for defenseman Shea Weber in June. Predators general manager David Poile, right, looks on.

Nashville, Tenn. — P.K. Subban certainly knows how to make an entrance, especially with a team more than happy to help manage his arrival in Music City.

The Nashville Predators took their new All-Star defenseman on a whirlwind trip around town that featured Subban jumping on stage at a renowned honky-tonk to belt out Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues.” Then the Predators introduced Subban to reporters and a few fans Monday in their first chance to show off the man they picked up last month in Nashville’s big trade with Montreal.

Subban said the past few weeks since last month’s trade have been filled with mixed emotions.

“There’s no question that I’m head over heels excited about this opportunity to play here in Nashville,” Subban said. “I’m excited about our team. I’m excited about our city and I’m most importantly excited about the opportunity to win a Stanley Cup. That’s what this is all about. Coming here is not a popularity contest. Coming here is about helping this team to win and win a championship. That’s what I’m here to do.”

The Predators and Canadiens stunned the NHL on June 29 with Montreal swapping Subban for Nashville’s captain and fellow All-Star defenseman Shea Weber. Nashville has been lauded for getting the better end of the deal with Subban having just turned 27 in May while Weber turns 31 in August. Montreal has been criticized for trading away both the 2013 Norris Trophy winner and fan favorite who pledged $10 million to a children’s hospital last year.

Subban said he had an amazing relationship with the Montreal fans but promised they will learn to love Weber as both a great hockey player and person as well.

“Obviously leaving Montreal is emotional for me,” Subban said. “I have a lot of relationships there, a lot of great ties and I’ll be connected to that city forever. Now it’s time … Christmas Day is over, it’s Boxing Day and it’s time to move on.”

Subban was vacationing in Europe when the trade occurred. He used this quick trip to Nashville to meet general manager David Poile and some of the team’s employees. He has yet to sit down with coach Peter Laviolette and his assistants to find out what they want from him. Subban ate lunch Monday with new teammates defenseman Ryan Ellis and center Mike Fisher and now has all his new teammates’ phone numbers.

Nashville’s new defenseman lacks Weber’s size at 6-foot and 210 pounds. But Subban has more points (202) than the 6-4, 236-pound Weber (180) over the past four seasons. The Predators wanted to add Subban’s offensive skills to Laviolette’s scheme where defensemen are encouraged to join the attack offensively to better compete in the Central Division where they finished fourth.

The Predators lost to San Jose in the second round of the playoffs in seven games.

“Hopefully, we’re either creating more offense and scoring more goals but for sure not spending as much time in our end,” Poile said.

Subban already has had fans asking for his autograph and coming up to talk to him. He was in Nashville for the All-Star Game weekend last January, which gave him a chance to get to learn about his new home a bit.

“I remember leaving saying, ‘Wow!’ I didn’t know people were so passionate about hockey here,” Subban said. “It is a hockey city. I’m really excited to be playing here right now. It’s different. It’s definitely different from Montreal but different in a good way. I look to embrace everything about this city and definitely embrace winning.”