There are many questions on the minds of Devils fans this season but one of the true burning issues inside the Devils Nation remains this: what’s happened to P.K. Subban?
Subban has developed a reputation for being one of the most stalwart defensemen in the NHL and was brought over this past year from the Nashville Predators to help shore up the Devils blueline and yet he is slumping in the worst season of his ten-year career. After 54 games, Subban is sitting on just 12 points and his plus/minus differential is sitting at a dismal -16.
When the Devils signed Subban last summer, they made a bet worth $9 million dollars a year that he would be the player to help fortify the defense and be the player he once was when he received the 2013 Norris Trophy and again was a finalist back in 2018. The Devils haven’t seen that top-level player yet but are still carrying a piece of financial baggage for Subban in the form of a huge contract.
The Devils are fighting a tailspin and are sitting at rock bottom of the Metropolitan Division and for all intents and purposes are out of playoff contention.
The million-dollar question surrounding Subban is just what exactly is wrong with him?
Traditionally, as players entered their thirties and got “older” they will slow down in all sports. However, the achievements of sports science and nutrition have greatly added years to athletic careers and Subban’s career shouldn’t be any different. While it’s true that he did suffer an upper-body injury last season, his body should have healed by now. Other issues including strength and conditioning routines seem to hamper Subban’s speed and style of play.
Hockey is a unique sport that requires the explosive strength of football with the speed, endurance, and agility of other sports such as soccer and other writers such as Elliot Friedman of Sportsnet have pointed to Subban’s weight-training heavy and rigid offseason workout program as a potential culprit for his slowing speed and relative lack of mobility this season.
One final possible explanation for Subban’s lackluster performance this season could be his engagement to former skier Lindsey Vonn and the media distractions that have been following the couple. Subban could just be a young man who is in love and his heart and passion belong somewhere (or to someone else) besides hockey for a change in his life.
P.K. Subban is one of the great defensemen of this generation of NHL players and his strength, experience and wisdom are sorely needed by the Devils right now.