P.K. Subban says activism shouldn't be pushed on NHL players
P.K. Subban has been a philanthropist and activist for much of his NHL career and beyond.
P.K. Subban wore many hats — both figuratively and literally — throughout his NHL career.
Beyond just his All-Star calibre play on the ice, Subban was a philanthropist, he was a fashion icon, and of course, an activist.
That, in part, is what makes the 33-year-old’s stance on the recent inflection point of Pride jerseys across the NHL somewhat perplexing
"We cannot push everyone to be an activist, we need to be very careful," Subban told Reuters on Friday.
"I feel people pick and choose what they want to talk about and I don't like it when we put the onus on athletes to be activists.”
The former Norris Trophy winner turned ESPN analyst added that, while he felt comfortable speaking his mind, it wasn’t right to expect other NHLers to do the same when it came to supporting the LGBTQ+ community.
"They don't need to be activists. I'm not saying it is right or wrong to wear the (Pride) jersey, we have just got to be very careful how we push players to do things," he said. "You can support the LGBTQ community without having to wear a hat, a t-shirt or a jersey."
Speaking as an ambassador for the Kraft Hockeyville program, which announced its winner on Saturday night, Subban reportedly rejected the notion that minorities and marginalized individuals may feel unwelcome watching NHLers refuse to support Pride night initiatives, including donning Pride jerseys in warm-up.
Notably, the Hockeyville program says its intended goal is to "make the game more accessible and inclusive for all," a statement that stands in stark contrast to the words of Subban.
According to Reuters, Subban continued by deflecting blame elsewhere, particularly towards the media covering the pride night boycotts.
"The people that write the articles, the people that push certain narratives in the media, they have to be held accountable," Subban said. "We have to be very, very careful about the way we perceive a moment. There's many players in the league that have started programs — why aren't the media talking about that?”
Subban, for his part, speaks from a place of experience on the matter. One of the most outspoken players of his era, Subban continually gave back to his communities during his time in Montreal, Nashville, and New Jersey.
Most famously, after signing an 8-year, $72-million contract in 2014, Subban generously donated $10-million to a Montreal Children's hospital, earning praise from across the hockey community.