First-time Olympian Subban ready for challenge in Sochi

{eot} Staff
1/7/2014 8:55:08 PM
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After months of lengthy debate from hockey fans across the country, Canadiens defenceman P.K. Subban's status for Sochi is no longer up in the air.

He's officially a member of the 2014 Canadian men's Olympic hockey team - and no one is happier than Montreal's No. 76.

"Obviously I was very happy (to receive the phone call) and my family was as well," he told reporters after Tuesday's announcement.

Subban, 24, captured the Norris Trophy last season as the NHL's best defenceman after posting 11 goals and 27 assists in 42 games during the lockout-shortened campaign. But the Habs' top blueliner has maintained that he wouldn't stand still as he tried to make a lasting impression with Hockey Canada.

"I try not to be complacent, get better every day and do my job to help my team win," said Subban. "I'm just grateful to have the opportunity to play with the best players in the world, play against them and learn from them."

The Toronto native has a solid international resume, having captured back-to-back gold medals at the 2008 and 2009 World Junior Championship, including a berth in the tournament All-Star Team in his second stint with three goals and nine points. He's also no stranger to playing on the larger ice surface that will be utilized in Sochi.

"I played on an Olympic-sized rink in junior for four years with Belleville," he explained. "It changes the game a little bit in terms of how much space and time you have out there."

And Subban has shown no signs of slowing down from last year's career campaign, leading the Canadiens in scoring with seven goals and 26 assists in 44 games this season.

"His greatest strengths are his shot and his puck handling," said Steve Yzerman, executive director of Team Canada. "He's the right fit for that spot right now."

That assessment was echoed by Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien, who's been pleased with the improvements Subban made to earn the selection.
"He made progress over the last two years," he said Tuesday. "We wanted to make sure he was a good all-around player and he puts in effort. All the credit goes to him."

Subban is one of four players named to Team Canada that is currently playing for a Canadian NHL team, joining teammate Carey Price as well as Dan Hamhuis and Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks.

And the young blueliner is looking forward to sharing the Olympic experience with Price - a long-time friend on and off the ice.

"Myself and Carey, we've had the opportunity to play together for a couple years now and to represent our country is great," said Subban. "I hope I get to room with him so I can snore and keep him up all night."

Another teammate Subban plans to chat with is defenceman Andrei Markov, who was named to the Russia's team at the same time. Provided of course, he can get Markov to respond.

"He's not talking very much right now, maybe he's already in Olympic mode,"  joked Subban. "I've spoken to him many times about Sochi and he thinks it's going to be a great experience. I'll definitely pick his brain on a couple things."

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