P.K. Subban on Canadiens exit: 'I didn't want to play anywhere else'

"I grew up a Montreal Canadiens fan. There was only one place I wanted to play in my career."

Former star NHL defenseman P.K. Subban shared details about his ugly breakup with the Montreal Canadiens in a recent interview. (Getty Images)

P.K. Subban's playing days may be over, but that hasn't kept the former NHL superstar from thinking of what could've been.

In a recent appearance on The Pivot Podcast, Subban spoke to hosts Channing Crowder, Fred Taylor and Ryan Clark about his time with the Montreal Canadiens and the controversial trade that saw him shipped to the Nashville Predators in 2016.

The 33-year-old admitted he wanted to spend his whole career in Montreal before the surprising move.

“It didn’t have to be that complicated,” he said. “I grew up a Montreal Canadiens fan in Toronto. There was only one place I wanted to play in my career.

“I didn’t want to play anywhere else.”

Subban was traded to the Predators in June 2016 for fellow star blueliner Shea Weber in one of the biggest trades in recent NHL history. While the deal came as a shock to Subban and just about everyone around the league, the relationship between him and the Habs seemed to be fractured years prior.

“If they would have come to me after I won the Norris Trophy (in 2013) and said, ‘You went out and you performed, you did what you said you were going to do, now we want to make you a Montreal Canadien, not only for the term of this contract, but for the rest of your career,’ I would have signed for $7 million,” Subban said.

The two sides eventually went to arbitration, and Subban was awarded a two-year, $5.75-million contract in 2013. The Toronto native would get his huge payday in 2015, when he was signed to an eight-year, $72-million deal ($9 million AAV).

Looking back on the end of his time with the Canadiens, Subban senses a pattern with the club and its biggest stars.

“The tradition with Montreal is any star players that had big names, that got bigger than the team, they traded them,” Subban said. “So what happened to me wasn’t any different than the history.”

Despite the success he saw in Montreal, Subban believes he never really fit in to the mold expected of him in one the league's biggest markets.

“That time in Montreal, it was the best and the most tumultuous time of my career, no doubt, because I don’t think hockey and the culture was really ready for the type of athlete that I was.”

In 834 career games over 13 NHL seasons, Subban scored 115 goals and registered 352 assists for 467 points. He won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenceman in 2012-13, and reached the Stanley Cup Final with the Predators in 2016.

He announced his retirement from hockey in September 2022, and has since transitioned into a hockey analyst role with ESPN.

Subban will be honoured at the Bell Centre before the Canadiens take on the Predators on Jan. 12.

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