Saturday, 2 August 2014

At The Top Of The Pay Grades

It came down to the eleventh hour. It was said that things became personal in the arbitration hearing. There were worries that a one-year arbitration deal would allow him to walk and find a team willing to pay him what he's worth next year. Instead, the two sides sat down before arbitrator Elizabeth Neumeier filed her decision, and the Canadiens' blue line will feature a happy and well-paid PK Subban next season as they got a deal done. In fact, he'll be on that blue line for a long time and will earn a lot of money.

The Canadiens and PK Subban agreed to an eight-year deal worth $72 million, making his $9 million annual cap hit next season the highest among all defencemen! That $9 million annual hit is also a long way off the $5.25 million mark that the Canadiens offered up in their arbitration argument. However, a deal is done, Subban will wear the bleu-blanc-et-rouge for the next huit années, and the biggest star the Canadiens have is now going to be in Montreal long-term.

Look, there's no denying that PK Subban is a polarizing figure in the game of hockey. He celebrates a little too much, but I like that he's thoroughly enjoying himself. He may not give the cliché answers that we've grown accustomed to in pro sports, but I like the fact that he answers questions honestly and doesn't shy away from the tough answers. It's also awesome to see a Canadian player and star staying in Canada with a signing that we used to only see from a handful of teams.

"I think that it sends a strong message to me that they want me here and they appreciate everything I've done to this point and they believe in me as a player," Subban said on a conference call Saturday evening. "I think I've always believed that, but obviously in this process and coming out with this result, now everybody else understands it and can see it as well and doesn't have to speculate about how the Montreal Canadiens feel about me."

I'm not sure I agree with Subban's assertion that the Canadiens left their feelings open to interpretation. He's on the ice basically every second shift, he plays the power play, he plays on the penalty kill, and he's one of the club's most celebrated stars. While the act of arbitration requires the Canadiens to low-ball their star, I'm pretty sure they would have matched any offer sheet thrown Subban's way regardless of the amount if that had happened.

"We are very pleased to have reached a long term agreement with P.K. Subban," Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said in a statement. "This agreement helps consolidate the future of our team. A key element of our group of young veterans, P.K. plays with a high level of intensity every time he steps onto the ice. Despite his young age, he carries a great deal of experience and brings contagious energy to the team. Defensemen of his level are a rare commodity in the NHL."

I'd say that pretty sums up how the Canadiens feel, don't you? The Canadiens, in rewarding their star defenceman, will now pay him more than two-time Stanley Cup champion and Norris winner Duncan Keith, two-time Stanley Cup winner Drew Doughty, and more than blue line anchors Shea Weber and Ryan Suter. In other words, Subban's contract has him in the elite echelon of contracts in the NHL. He is a Norris Trophy winner, and the Canadiens seem to be trending upward as they look to capture a Stanley Cup. Keeping Subban in Canadiens' colours was paramount in their chase for the Stanley Cup.

"I knew that even before the arbitration that something was going to get done," Subban said. "We were always working on a long-term deal. These types of deals don't get done overnight, they don't get done over a few days. It takes months sometimes to get these deals done. I'm happy that it's done now and everybody's happy about it."

I know the craziness on Montreal radio and the outrage being expressed by the fans over what the Canadiens were doing in their negotiations can die down now. PK Subban will be a fixture on the Montreal blue line for the better part of the next decade. That's good for the Habs, good for their success, and good for Subban.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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