That bit of news came over the wire Thursday but, unfortunately for Canadiens’ fans, the story referred to the three-year, entry-level deal goaltender Malcolm Subban signed with the Boston Bruins.
His older brother, Montreal defenceman P.K. Subban, is still a restricted free agent. But he had other things on his mind as he joined a group of youngsters on the ice at the Verdun Auditorium Thursday. Subban is the spokesman for Hyundai Hockey Helpers, a new program designed to help under-resourced youngsters deal with the rising cost of minor hockey.
Subban said he can understand the problems facing some families.
“I didn’t grow up in a poor neighbourhood in Toronto, but I know that it was tough for my father to pay the bills with three boys playing Triple-A hockey and two older sisters attending university,” Subban said. “We all had hand-me-down equipment growing up. When you have $800 skates and $200 sticks, it becomes a very expensive sport.”
Subban and his family have hooked up with Hyundai dealers across Canada and KidSport — a non-profit organization dedicated to providing access to sports for under-resourced youngsters — to identify 1,000 youngsters. The group will provide the youngsters with $500 to cover registration and buy equipment. About a quarter of the recipients will be in Quebec.
Subban said he has had a busy summer and is hoping he can concentrate on playing hockey in the near future. But for that to happen, the National Hockey League and its players must hammer out a new collective agreement and he must sign a new contract with the Canadiens.
Subban remains confident there will be agreements on both fronts.
“The player have confidence in (NHLPA executive director) Don Fehr that he’ll be able to negotiate a fair deal,” said Subban, who has attended a number of bargaining sessions and expects to be in New York for an NHLPA meeting next week. “We want something that works for us, works for the owners and works for the league.
“Nobody wants to see a lockout, especially our fans,” Subban added. “We have the greatest fans in the world and we don’t want to hurt them, because ultimately they’re the ones who support us. None of us would be making money without them.”
As for his own contract, Subban said: “It’s a process just like the CBA. I’ve been so busy with my training and my work with Nike and Livestrong that I haven’t had to worry about it. (Agent) Don Meehan is looking after it and I know that it will be done before we start playing.”
The Canadiens’ last-place finish in the Eastern Conference meant Subban’s training got off to an early start.
“I was in the gym in May,” he said.
The 23-year-old has added 10 pounds of muscle and will play at 220 pounds this season. He hasn’t spent as much time on the ice as in past summers, but joined former teammate Michael Cammalleri and Canadiens prospect Alex Galchenyuk at the Biosteel camp last month in Toronto.
The camp, which is run by trainer Matt Nichol and former NHLer Gary Roberts, has become such a popular spot for elite NHL players that there is now a waiting list for the 40 available spots.
© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette