On P.K. Subban and Goal Celebrations

After scoring the game winning goal in the Buffalo Sabres’ overtime victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday, Jason Pominville dropped to one knee and executed a textbook fist pump while gliding into a throng of his teammates. There’s no readily available video of the veteran forward’s celebration, and there’s no stories about it this morning. If you subscribe to the doctrine of people like Mike Richards or Don Cherry then you probably should have found Jason Pominville’s mini celebration to be disrespectful in some way… or would you?

What we’re getting at here is this foolish notion that an NHL player must conduct himself in a way that adheres to some unwritten code of respect. Pominville’s quick fist pump on Tuesday will go unnoticed, presumably because he’s got 6+ years of NHL service and thus earned this respect that so many speak of.

It was Flyers captain Mike Richards’ comments in November that turned the watchful eye of hockey dinosaur types on P.K. Subban.

“He’s come in the league and hasn’t earned respect… You have to earn respect in this League. It takes a lot.”

Subban has come under fire once again, from some, after his flashy celebration following his first career overtime winner over the Calgary Flames on Monday night. It was a big goal, a game winner, but has still managed to draw a mixed reaction from the hockey world. Vicki Hall of Flames Insider sung the familiar chorus of the traditionalist:

“The rookie hogged it again Monday night with an attention-grabbing goal celebration that flies in the face of the philosophy of acting like you’ve been there before.”

Subban’s own coach, Jacques Martin, even made a mention of a learning process that the rookie defencemen is still riding the curve of.

So why are we examining this? To be completely honest, I’d much rather refrain from taking the time to call out the stiffs that are hellbent on removing all forms of fun from the NHL. But something’s got me irked over what is quickly beginning to look more and more like a double standard for P.K. Subban and other young players. Not since the arrival of Sidney Crosby have we seen so much bickering over the concept of respect for the game and its players. While he had no problem with Monday’s goal celebration, Buffalo’s Craig Rivet did go out of his way to comment on the way that Subban acts.

Never mind that Boston’s Zdeno Chara completed a hat-trick by going up on the Carolina Hurricanes by a score of 7-0 and then proceeded to pay homage to Peter Bondra with a celebration at centre ice – but let’s pick on Subban because guys like Chara and Pominville have obviously already earned respect.

The idea that Subban should have apologized, or that there’s no place in the game for his antics is as foolish as it is dated. He’s an exciting player that will one day be a big part of “selling” the game, more so than Mike Richards or Craig Rivet could ever be. If Subban’s sliding fist pumping deserved any scrutiny, then why wasn’t the same criticism launched at Taylor Hall when he engaged in an almost identical fist pumping game winning goal celebration back in November?

The bottom line is this: players who bring excitement and energy to the game like P.K. Subban, Taylor Hall, Patrick Kane, and Alex Ovechkin will do much more good for the game than bad over the course of their careers. If we allow them to be stifled and rob them of personality then we’re just stalling the growth of this game.

Embrace the celebration like Carey Price and P.K. Subban embrace each other.

Comments (28)

  1. I’m not necessarily a fan of Subban, but it was a game-winning goal in overtime. That’s worthy of a celebration. If it was the sixth goal in a 6-1 blowout, then I could see criticizing him, but it’s been blown out of proportion for sure.

  2. ^ This is correct.

  3. I hate to say this but, could it be a racial thing?

  4. Great post Scott. I couldn’t agree more. The double standard is very evident and completely unfounded. It’s ridiculous. To Rick’s point – the goal was in overtime – it was a big moment. I have no issue with it.

    I have a bigger problem with Jacques Martin throwing Subban under the bus in that interview on national TV last night. If JM has a problem with the celebration (not that he should, but whatever), deal with it internally. It’s not like Subban plays in a secondary hockey market. He plays in one of the largest markets in the world.

    Players like Subban are good for the game. He’s got personality. I hope all this ‘noise’ doesn’t take that away. Hockey could use more personality.

  5. All I have to say is the old boys club is back to work at full strength, they hold white players at a way different standard, that has been very obvious. It is a joke that P.K is the head liner for inadequate reasons in the NHL(National Haters League).

    As a Yardie(Jamaican for those that do not know the term) I am extremely proud of this young man. We should be amazed how this man’s family immigrated to this country and embraced Canada’s sport so much so that his father taught his children the game.

    Celebration and Self Confidence are a huge part of our culture especially in Sport. This young man has proven his worth time and time again. His skill is unquestionable, he plays in one of the hardest places for a Blackman to succeed in Hockey The fact the he is able to thrive in that kind of environment says a lot about his Character. P.K your father has taught you well, continued success my yute. All Yardies have your back zeeen!

    Jacques Martin as a coach you should know better then to disrespect one of your best young players in public.

    Great article !

    Jamaicans have a saying for those who love to hate… ” No Boda watch me, watch yourself”

  6. Well, I’m about as white as they come and I agree with Yardie. I am a Habs diehard and I’m ecstatic we have PK. The picking on him is beyond ridiculous, and it pains me to hear even his head coach semi-criticizing him. If PK gets ragged on, then every rookie should be held to the same standard, which they clearly aren’t.
    I’m proud as hell to have this wonderful young man on the team and hope he doesn’t change a thing.

    Keep it up PK, if you hold true to yourself you’ll earn the respect. Anything less is just selling out.


  7. Racial? maybe…Remeber a guy named Raymond Emery (Sens Goalie)…To me he was the best goalie to ever dawn a Sens jersey. He was extremely good for the game, he was at Music Awards, and getting noticed…But his play on the ice was great as well. He brought excitement to the arena, his attitude, cars, flash was all good as far as i can see..I dont care what people say, Ottawa made him the scapegoat of their issues..So the guy was late a couple of times for practice…big deal…hundreds of players in the NHL, none were ever late? Anyways, Subban being black and being good is great for the NHL because lets face it, the game needs to appeal to more than just white americans and canadians if it wants to brand itself in the new age of sports…

  8. Doesn’t Danny Briere do the same thing?

  9. I’m surprised it took three comments for the race card to be drawn from the deck. Figured that would have happened sooner.

    I hate speaking in generalities, but the angst towards young, emerging players and their celebrations is an unfortunate trend in almost all North American sports. Baseball, the sport with the most cranky traditionalists, lashed out against Joba Chamberlain and his fist pumping, and the NFL made rules to curb the antics of Chad Johnson (yes he was named Johnson then, not Ochocino).

    For those of us who sit comfortably behind our keyboards–like, say, me–and contribute to blogs, sports are far more than just an entertaining diversion. But to the average person, that’s exactly how hockey and any other game is treated.

    Players like P.K Subban are just giving us what we want: a lot of skill, mixed with a dash of personality.

  10. Leave it to a jamaican to come to the defence of this idiot.Self confidence and celebration are part of your culture??? thats code for we’re selfish and have images of self grandeur ( see NBA ie: player dunks while team is down by 13 with 1:30 left in game and celebrates all the way down the court.or NFL ie: players celebrating sacks or even worse tackles while being down 3 touch downs in the 4th quarter.

    bottom line this isnt a racial thing.its a player having a big mouth thing and he wont back it up.Mike Richards is right on he came in the league and mouthed off but he put out his own fires. he had over 20 fights in his first 3 seasons. Subban wont fight his shadow but will talk big and tough.His temmated dont defend him and nobody celebrated with him when he scored.Dooesnt that tell you something? hes a good player..not great just good.his lows are as bad as his highs are good.All he needs to do is shut up and play and the rest takes care of itself.But he wont because according to yardie his culture prevents him from doing so

  11. @R u kidding – Um, yeah… so about that racial thing.

  12. great reply Scott, im being sarcastic at the jamiacan using race as an excuse to act like an idiot.If you had balls youd call me a racist but you dont and im not. so you showing a clip of Taylor Hall celebrating is what to prove double standard? there is no double standard because Taylor Hall, John Tavares, Matt Duchesne, Victor Hedman just to name a few recent top overall picks dont talk smack on the ice.if you want to be an agitator so be it, youll have to drop the gloves at some point.The vets on this team dont like him but know they need him because of injuries.If coach Martin doesnt listen to the vets he loses the room and his job.I dont like him as a coach but thats irrelevant because you would do the same.Subbans celebration was completely rehearsed and thats why he apologized after the game because he knew the optics were bad.Next time they play the flames they will celebrate a goal in that manner to “prove a point” like Marc andre fleury did to the Habs when Carey Price did that pose towards the pens.You dont want to motivate other teams in that manner because what goes around comes around and injuries start to happen because of someone who keeps writing checks with his mouth that hs butt cant cash

  13. you should thank your lucky stars that you get paid( i hope you do) to write this drivel.If thats what it takes for you to watch hockey then we dont want you watching move along and cover something else

  14. @R U Kidding

    Once again what started as a good discussion (which is the root of blogging) spirals into absurdity, and all it takes is one absurd voice. If calling someone a racist is what it takes to show balls, then call me Martha Stewart.

    If you actually watch the clip of Subban’s goal and his celebration afterwards (http://video.thescore.com/watch/pk-subbans-ot-winner) you’ll see that there are plenty of teammates celebrating with him. Also, if you actually listen to the post-game comments (http://video.thescore.com/watch/subban-flames-comment-on-post-game-celebration), Subban did indirectly apologize, but Flames veteran Alex Tanguay shrugged it off and said it’s “good for the game.”

    In 44 career regular season games Subban has had three fighting majors. Say what you will about his fighting skills–which are pretty much non-existent–but for a young player he’s willing to drop the mitts. Sticking with your example of Mike Richards, that Flyers tough guy may have had 20 fights in his first three seasons, but he had two in his first 44 games.

  15. It is painfully obvious who the racist is here. What a disgusting attitude. You have no idea whether or not Taylor Hall talks smack on the ice.

  16. @R U Kidding

    Doesn’t back it up? No one, NO ONE, has said that anywhere else. The guy can back it up, especially with the big hit.

    Thing is, there’s also the stupid notion that you have to fight after delivering a big clean hit. Stupid. If you hit someone cleanly, let the other team be idiots and take a roughing penalty. The guy is too skilled to fight some 3rd liner anyways. Not good for the team. If you watched any AHL action or just took a look at the big hits the guy’s delivered in only half a season, you’d realize that your comment is absurd.

    If it weren’t for Don Cherry, Richards wouldn’t have said what he did, being the little Cherry disciple that he is, and this would be a non-issue. If Subban played for whatever team is unfortunate to have you as a fan, you’d be thrilled to have him.

    Listen to the guy talk. The guy is one of the nicest and most excited people you’ll meet.

  17. And by the way, the Price celebration had NOTHING to do with the Pens.

    If they took it that way, they can get take their heads out of their self-absorbed @ss. It’s not all about the Pens, it’s about celebrating with your team.

    So it looks like it’s not just some fools on comment boards like these, but also some players who feel it’s all about them.

    Wake up..

  18. @ R U KIDDING


  19. @Sean Tomlinson aka Martha Stewart

    I live in montreal and watched the game live 4 teammates went to him 4 no you tube video supports whatever your point is.they mugged Carey Price who made 3 saves total.It was discussed in the room and he apologized because he was told to.

    Alex Tanguay said that because he played here and knows that anything he says could be twisted by the french media he is french you know.Do you even follow hockey or are you so toronto centric that you have no clue.You speak in generalities all the time.He gives us what we want? you dont speak for the majority of sports fans so dont try.habs fans here are split on him hes a web star but the reality is that right now hes above average offensively and mediocre defensively.the jury is still out on him and well see in 3 years where he is.this city chews up and spits out “stars” every 3 years because were a bunch of bandwagonners in this town.flavor of the month.

    Sean you dont like me using Mike richards as the example then how come none of PKs teammates backed him up after he said that???? exactly youre clueless.i guess youre favorite player in the NFL is TO right? me me me is what you like.

    When PK does what Mike Richards has done in this league you can talk.I would trade subban to philly for richards in a heartbeat and 99% of habs fans feel the same.you dont live here so you dont know

  20. @ LAVEM

    what case you said nothing bring something to the table and then talk

  21. @Chris

    of course it had nothing to do with the Pens but they took it that way didnt they???? exactly YOU need to wake up

  22. @CHRIS

    Pk is a 2 face smiles all the time acts humble in interviews yet is a A-hole on the ice.He starts fires that he doesnt put out and teammates dont stand for that too long unless youre an elite player which he is not, not opinion fact.does he have potential, yes he can skate has a good shot but Defensive awareness not really there.he might turn into mike green light.

  23. @Sean Tomlinson

    By the way you say hes willing to back it up? have you watched him play this year he had to be dragged into the scraps he was in and did nothing in them.He blew kisses at his new teammate Wiz earlier this season after shaking his gloves as if he wanted to go and then promptly hid behind the refs.Hes had 3 big hits in 45 games and is hardly physical.he slew footed dubinsky recently which will add to his resume of being a complete coward.You know nothing about the Habs other than Subban.Martin has benched him because of all this exuberance and “confidence” the vets on the team told the coach to do so everybody here knows this.you lose the vets on your team you lose your job.Injuries are the only reason he put him back in.get a clue

  24. @ R U KIDDING

    What makes your view of the PK Subban situation more accurate or any better than anyone elses?Everyone has their own thoughts and opinions. Just because they may differ from yours doesn’t mean that they are wrong or mis-informed. It just means that they have a different take on the situation. A lot of people didn’t like Waye Gretzky either.

  25. @ ru kidding:
    I rest my case again Old Boy!……the more you type, the more humorous you get

  26. @ ru kidding…I am from Montreal and you are exactly what LAVEM called you…and Old Boy!!
    Everyone talks smack on the ice, everyone blows kisses to one anotehr when the player blowing the kiss is far more talented..look at Jagr blowing a kiss to Ruutu in the playoffs a few years back….You are a typical “I am not racist” guy…Taylor Hall dont talk smack??!! are you serious…??!! Why is Phaneuf was never talked about in a bad way when hitting players the way he did as a rookie? He talked smack just like you and no one said anything….Its simple and lets stop hiding in the sand; no one talked about Peter Worrell or Laraque, why ?? Simple they were OK hockey players, played hard, average talent mostly a goon..”they” like that…but PK is great, can dominate a game, great skater, great vision..”they” hate it…he takes too much place and he is not playing his “position”; meaning the quiet minority who should just be happy to play on the NHL, while Ovie throws himself on teh boards after every goal, Crosby whines to the refs afetr every call, Hall celebrates a tying gioal while PK celebrates a WINNING GOAL in OT, but he cant celebrate..I say you’re a biggot and get a kick by saying thoughtless crap like you do…if PK was white, trust me..he would be talked about very highly by everyone even other players regardless of how much smack he talks on the ice why…because he can BACK IT UO!!!

  27. [...] goals last week.When PK Subban doesn’t fight and shows a little too much character (gasp!) everyone is pissed off. When he does fight, Lupol is pissed off. It seems nothing the young defenceman does is quite good [...]

  28. Why all the haters?

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