Thursday, 24 March 2016

P.K. Subban reported to be the source of locker room friction.

Lots of rumours, Twitter reports lately about how P.K. Subban is a source of friction and discord in the Canadiens' dressing room.

I don’t understand why this is controversial, why we need to disbelieve. P.K. has a huge personality, is a character, a chatterbox, he’s loud and he’s proud, he attracts attention to himself, doesn’t mind being the butt of jokes or pranks as long as he’s in the middle of things.

This act is a lot easier to swallow when the team is winning and P.K. is slaying the Bruins all by himself, you give him a lot of slack, accept the little foibles and the loudness, my lord the loudness. But when you’re having a horrible season, and everyone is on edge and under pressure, and P.K. bobbles the puck and allows the opposition’s winning goal on a brain cramp, then the antics they wear on you.

Next season when we’re in the midst of a run for the Cup, and P.K. is blasting 25 goals in on the powerplay, he can be the fashion model and the dressing room clown and the rapper-in-training all he wants, and the other 22 guys will fight to the death for him.

I’ve thought of an analogy between P.K. and former Expos great Gary Carter, but I’ve never posted on it, P.K. being a bit of a third rail on social media.

Gary Carter was definitely a good comparable. Supremely talented, a fan favourite, but a target of discontent and jealousy in the clubhouse. There was the story of the other players busting his chops once at the airport, when he got off a bus and made a beeline for the gaggle of reporters, instead of waiting for them to come to him. I can’t remember the exact quote, but they were catcalling him, saying “Jeez Gary, can you let them take out their notebooks first, …” He was the first guy I ever heard the quote “He’s never met a microphone he didn’t love” being used on.

In 1983, when hardline manager Bill Virdon took over, there was a much ballyhooed incident at spring training, when Gary Carter was yelling for an infield popup. Bill Virdon came out of the dugout with both guns blazing, chewing out Gary. Apparently, infield flies are handled in a certain way, someone ‘calls’ it and everybody listens, but on the Expos Gary always called them for himself, which was unusual but the rest of the infield kind of let it happen that way.

It was easy to see what was going on, the reporters all explained that Bill Virdon probably came in with some background knowledge about some of the quirks of the team, maybe some of the resentment towards Gary, justified or not, and the manager put his imprint on the team, seized the reins. Probably a few Expos kind of muttered “Right on” under their breath.

Some of the resentment also apparently fell along racial lines, that Gary was the squeaky-clean media darling who got all the press and endorsements, while André Dawson and Tim Raines and Warren Cromartie got the crumbs.

As I wrote earlier about P.K. though, when the Expos were winning, when it was September, you saw the Expos celebrate as a whole team, nobody shunned Gary when he threw out a would-be base stealer or got another timely double.

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