It shocked many across the hockey world this summer to see the headline “Subban retires” splattered across the front page of every major publication.
While he wasn’t the superstar player he once was, it seemed like a given P.K. Subban would play in the NHL into his late 30s as long as he remained healthy. A charismatic, dynamic, fan favourite everywhere he played, Subban took to Twitter this past September to announce this was it: he’d played his last game in the NHL and was officially calling it a career.
Thank You! pic.twitter.com/rpyePEKvyG
— P.K. Subban (@PKSubban1) September 20, 2022
But it wasn’t for a lack of trying from the 33-year-old defenceman. Interested in playing for a 14th NHL season, Subban didn’t receive a formal contract offer from any NHL team.
And instead of working his way back and maybe catching on somewhere midseason, the former Norris Trophy hung his skates up as NHL training camps were just getting underway.
“I was pretty surprised,” Subban said to Michael Traikos of the Toronto Sun. “I felt I could have helped a number of teams. As a free agent, I wanted to play on a contending team. I think Edmonton showed some interest. Carolina had shown some interest. I did not have discussions with the Maple Leafs. They were not interested in signing me.”
Subban returns to Montreal tonight as part of a “Homecoming” ceremony this week: an acknowledgement of his place in team history without the formalities of a jersey retirement.
Before hanging his skates up, Subban played 13 seasons for the Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators and New Jersey Devils. He had 115 goals and 352 assists in 834 games, picking up the Norris Trophy in 2013 as the NHL’s top defenceman.
“Money was never an issue for me,” Subban added. “It was about the opportunity to come in and help a team win. I wanted to win a Stanley Cup. But those opportunities were never presented to me.”
Subban’s closest shot to winning a Stanley Cup came in 2017, when his Predators reached the finals for the first time in franchise history but fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games. Still relatively new to his post-NHL career: it’s not quite clear what path he’ll take in his retirement, though he’s making appearances on ESPN’s panel this season.
“Who knows,” said Subban. “Maybe I’ll win a Stanley Cup as an owner.”