P.K. Subban trade and the fracture with Les Canadiens



July 2, 2016

Mr. Geoff Molson,President & CEO – Club de Hockey Canadiens

Dear Mr. Molson:

P.K Subban trade and the fracture with Les Canadiens

After 49 years as a devoted and passionate fan (religiously) of the Montreal Canadiens, I write to advise that I am disassociating myself from my beloved “Les Canadiens”. I am broken-hearted by the decision to trade P.K. Subban. It is an egregious and narrow-minded decision.

My love and devotion for the Montreal Canadiens is deep and personal. I grew up in a small town in central British Columbia (Williams Lake). My parents were immigrants from India and I discovered Jean Beliveau at 9 years of age. He and Bobby Rousseau were my first favourite players. My father was severely disabled when I was 10 years old, we experienced many hardships – but, through it all I found excitement, wonder and joy, and hope through my devotion to the Canadiens. I read every book about Les Canadiens: Georges Vezina, Howie Morenz, Maurice Richard, Guy Lafleur, Larry Robinson were among the heroes of my childhood and youth. I could recite every statistic, draft pick and prospect. My favourite Habs team was the 1971 edition, the incredible way they won the Stanley Cup (rookie Dryden in goal, Beliveau’s final season, Mahovlich’s 14 goals, and Henri Richard’s tying and gaming winning goals in game 7 in Chicago). I used to pray for the team, and even cry with bad defeats. Those were the beliefs and dreams of a young boy.

Then came youth and adulthood. Through it all, no matter where I found myself in the world, I managed to find a radio, newspaper or internet connection – staying up all night to catch a game, news of the draft, or of UFA signings.   I became a father and among my son’s first words were “Saku”. My family are huge fans, immersed in the Montreal Canadiens. We speak French. We have the jersey’s, action figures, go to watch and cheer our Habs in visiting arena’s, belong to the fan club, buy the books (Yes, we also read Roch Carrier’s books every night to our kids) and we subscribe to the French hockey broadcasts.

The Montreal Canadiens were not just any traditional hockey team. They represented my vision of my country – French and English working and winning together, grace, fire-wagon hockey, progressive, worldly, classy.

P.K. Subban is much more than a dynamic, highly talented, elite hockey player. He grew up a Habs fan, realized his dream to play for the team he loved, he embraced the tradition and legendary history, he loved the fans and they loved him. He knew and respected what the uniform and team meant, to millions around the world.

Subban represented what I wanted to see as the captain of the Montreal Canadiens. He represents team progress, the new Canada. He is “urban, the son of immigrant parents and black – all demographic categories underrepresented in the world of hockey.”[1] He was transcendent – articulate, passionate, artistic in play, connected to the legendary players and tradition of the bleu, blanc et rouge, the soul of the team – a torch-bearer.

PK is refreshing and authentic in an era of clichéd, boring, millionaire athletes. The traditionalists, “old stock” Canadians, and old-boys network of hockey do not like difference and they engaged in their propaganda and prejudices. You had a unique and remarkable young man, the kind of personality and symbol the game needs to grow and for your legendary franchise to yet again be at the forefront, a leader for the game of hockey and the face of the Montreal Canadiens. This week he was sent away in a “hockey trade”?  What nonsense. Nor, is this akin to the Chelios or Roy trade. Nashville got the better player, and you lost much more than a hockey player.

This feels different; it is not the same for me anymore. The light burns much less brightly; it is a fracture. I am sad, it feels like I have lost a part of myself, something I love and believed in has become something else and I don’t like it. You have become like the rest, just a business, not a symbol or a something we can believe in. You let your GM and coach run a remarkable young man, great hockey player and symbol out of town.

It is over for me with Les Canadiens. Adieu.

Yours sincerely,

Bill Sundhu.


[1] Jonathon Montpetit, CBC News, “P.K. Subban, Ron Maclean and hockey’s culture wars”, Jul 01, 2016.

Official website of P.K. Subban: http://www.pksubban.com/

About Bill Sundhu

Canadian lawyer, Former Judge, Member of Kellogg College of University of Oxford (Masters Degree in International Human Rights Law 2010).
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