OTTAWA - Before P.K. Subban gets back on the ice with the Montreal Canadiens, he better be ready to buy into a new philosophy.
The defenceman joined his team Wednesday in Ottawa for the first time since signing a two-year $5.75 million contract, but was not in the lineup for their game against the Senators.
He took part in the team’s optional morning skate, and admitted he wasn’t sure when he would play his first game.
It appears Subban has been given a clear message and if he plans on playing an integral role with the team he’d better accept the new set of rules.
“The first thing Marc Bergevin and I did was sit down with (Subban) and explain our philosophy and he understood where we’re coming from,” Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said. “It was a good, honest conversation with P.K. and we just want to make sure everyone is on the same page.”
The Canadiens have two days off before playing back-to-back afternoon home games on the weekend against the Buffalo Sabres and Senators, respectively.
“I felt great today. I’m going to continue to practice and get ready,” said Subban. “As of right now, there’s no time frame to when I’ll be returning. I don’t know. It’s not my decision."
Therrien admitted he has no immediate timetable for Subban’s return. He said he wouldn’t make a decision until he had seen Subban in a full practice with his teammates.
“He appears to be in good condition and that’s a positive,” said Therrien. “When we can have a practice with our team we’ll have a better idea.
“There’s a lot of things he needs to pick up. We play a different system. I want to make sure when he steps on the ice he knows what to do.”
The Canadiens aren't rushing Subban back to ensure the 23-year-old will not disrupt the team’s chemistry.
Much has been made as to whether or not Subban would be welcomed back with open arms by his teammates, but Therrien says he’s not concerned. However, he did preach the importance of accepting the team mentality.
“He’s a big part of our hockey team, but like everyone I believe you need to come on a team with a good frame of mind and good attitude…we want to make sure our team concept stays the same.”
Subban admitted he hasn’t had a lot of interaction with his teammates, as he didn’t want to be a distraction prior to the game, but is definitely looking forward to reconnecting.
“We spoke earlier this morning at breakfast, but I haven’t seen all the guys,” said Subban. “I’m going to wait until after the game when we have two days off so we’ll have plenty of time together.”
Subban has been on the sidelines watching as his teammates stretched a winning streak to four games.
“I missed everything," he said. "I missed my teammates; I missed the game; I missed the jersey; I missed the fans. This is what I’ve grown up doing my whole life and I look forward to getting back in the mix,” added Subban.
Subban had been looking for a longer contract, but in the end agreed to the shorter deal and said there are no hard feelings.
“This is my first contract negotiation and I was surprised at how good it was. It was about coming down to an agreement. Right now I’m just happy to be back. The quicker we can put this stuff behind us the better it’s going to be for our team and our hockey club. It’s not about me anymore it’s about the team and moving forward.”