On Tuesday, both Zdeno Chara and P.K. Subban announced their retirement from professional hockey.
Only one of those notable defencemen received a one-day contract, allowing them to hang up the skates with the organization they spent the majority of their career with. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t Subban.
Before we jump the gun here, we want to make it clear that after 14 seasons with the Bruins, Chara, a former captain, Stanley Cup champ, and future Hall-of-Famer, is beyond deserving of the honour of the one-day contract.
The thing is, so is Subban.
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Although it’s been more than six years since he was last seen in a Montreal Canadiens uniform, Subban’s connection to fans across the city is still very strong. This was confirmed when the news of his retirement sent shockwaves of disappointment throughout the fanbase. The response to the announcement was, in a way, reminiscent of the gut-wrenching heartbreak and shock that was felt when he was traded in 2016.
Between his heroics on the ice, candid moments around town, or large philanthropic endeavours that include a $10 million pledge to the Montreal Children’s Hospital, Subban, to this day, stands out as one of the most exciting Canadiens players of the 21st century. He was one of a kind — in more ways than one.
If there was anyone who deserved a second chance with the organization, it was him.
The Habs, whose defensive core is seriously lacking (especially on the right side), had their chance to sign the 33-year-old to a bargain deal when he became an unrestricted free agent this past summer. They didn’t. New management may have decided that the risk wasn’t worth the reward by offering him a contract.
They were then presented with the opportunity to offer the 2013 Norris Trophy winner a professional try-out. They didn’t do that either.
And so, Subban, who likely had a few decent years of hockey left in him, decided it was time to pack it in. As to whether he was approached with offers from other teams is still unknown.
Now that he’s officially retired, Montreal has one more chance to make things right with someone who’s always embraced the community and franchise with open arms. They can do this by offering Subban a one-day contract.
Over the years, franchise players and fan favourites like Mike Modano, Daniel Alfredsson, and now Chara, have all signed one-day contracts with the team they wanted to retire with. The ceremonial and respectful gesture is a small way of saying thank you to someone who has served as an exemplary team ambassador.
Many Montreal fans would argue that Subban deserves to be in that camp.
@CanadiensMTL should sign Subban on a one day contract, to retire a Hab. For me please
— I’m Evan👾 (@ezaharat) September 20, 2022
I’d personally love to see Subban retire as a Hab. Sign the contract and let him close out his career in front of the fans who loved him, and he loved most.
— Andrew (@CanadiensEh) September 22, 2022
PK Subban announced his retirement yesterday & deserves to sign a 1 day contract by the team that drafted him and put him on the map. He was the most exciting player Montreal has had in years. He won a Norris, represented team Canada on numerous occasions…
— Young Guns Podcast ™ (@yngguns_podcast) September 21, 2022
@CanadiensMTL should have signed P.K. Subban to a one-day contract. Opportunity missed, wish he could have retired a Hab…
— Jeremy (@jpaMTL) September 21, 2022
Someone even started a petition in the hopes of getting the ball rolling.
— LesHabs (@priceisright7) September 21, 2022
While he was met with a touching video tribute when he returned to the Bell Centre as a Nashville Predator in 2017, as of now, there is still no word on getting Subban the goodbye he deserves. And considering the way things ended for him here, and all he continues to do for the city, a classy gesture from the Bleu, Blanc, Rouge is long overdue.
Here’s hoping they get it right this time.