BROSSARD, Que. — Rookie P.K. Subban’s flamboyant style on the ice is starting to irk some NHL veterans.
Philadelphia Flyers captain Mike Richards teed off on the Montreal defenceman to The Team 990 radio after the Canadiens 3-0 victory on Tuesday night.
Subban had been in the midst of skirmishes that erupted in the third period after Montreal centre Jeff Halpern was put out of the game by a hit from Darroll Powe that the Canadiens felt should have been ruled a hit from behind.
“He’s a guy that’s come in the league and hasn’t earned respect,” Richards told the radio station. “It’s just frustrating to see a young guy like that come in here and so much as think that he’s better than a lot of people.
”You have to earn respect in this league. It takes a lot. You can’t just come in here as a rookie and play like that. It’s not the way to get respect from other players around the league. Hopefully someone on their team addresses it, because, I’m not saying I’m going to do it, but something might happen to him if he continues to be that cocky.“
The Canadiens face the Flyers again in Philadelphia on Monday night.
Earlier in the season, Subban and Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby exchanged harsh words on the ice, which prompted Hockey Night In Canada analyst Don Cherry to warn the 21-year-old not to be overly cocky.
After practice on Wednesday, Subban told reporters he doesn’t plan to change the way he plays.
“I think that I’m confident but I think that there’s a lot of players that are confident in this league,” Subban said. “I’m not the only person that’s confident when I play the game.
”That’s what you have to do. Maybe the fact I’m a young guy coming in that maybe people don’t take well to that. As long as my teammates and the coaching staff are happy with what I’m doing, I’m going to continue to do that.“
One reporter asked if Subban thought he was being singled out because he is black.
“That’s a crazy question, I don’t think so man,” Subban said. “I don’t think that’s the case at all here.
”We’re playing hockey out there. There’s not any of that going on. Stuff is said on the ice but nothing like that. I don’t know where that’s coming from.“
Subban became a favourite of the Bell Centre crowd when he joined the team late last season and was used heavily in the playoffs. He quickly became known for daring rushes up the ice and flashy spin moves to evade opponents. He also chatters a lot on the ice to teammates and opponents.
“That’s when P.K. plays well — when he’s under people’s skin and forces people into poor decisions trying to hit him,” said Canadiens defenceman Hal Gill. “Then he can skate and wheel off and make plays.
”I wouldn’t expect him to change anything he does. He’s got a lot to learn about the game, but I think the way he plays it is exciting and fun. If they (the Flyers) are down on that … he’s good for the game.“
“I just go out there and play hard and respect the players,” added Subban. “I don’t go out there and try and hurt anybody.
”I just play the game.“
Halpern did not practise but is expected to be in the lineup when the Canadiens play host to the Nashville Predators on Thursday night.