Living the Canadian dream
26.12.2007. Wharnsby, Tim. The Globe and Mail

Montreal Canadiens draft pick P.K. Subban steps into the international spotlight

Friends of Karl Subban were surprised when his wife, Maria, gave birth to the couple's third child and first son back on May 13, 1989, that the newborn wasn't named Guy or Serge or Larry or Ken after one of the legendary Montreal Canadiens players Karl cheered for as a youth.

When Karl visited his wife at Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital shortly after the birth of P.K., as the Canadian junior defenceman now is known, the couple didn't have a name ready.

"My wife was reading one of those movie magazines," said Karl, who along with Maria will be in attendance at the Pardubice Arena when Canada begins the world junior hockey tournament against the host Czech Republic today. "We saw the name Pernell Roberts, you know the guy who [portrayed Adam Cartwright] on Bonanza ? We immediately liked the name."

It turns out Pernell Karl was the perfect name for the now-teenage hockey talent. P.K., 18, is not only a chip off the old block, but is a young man with Hollywood-like charisma and his early life easily could be turned into a movie.

The only problem for the screenwriter would be which character would play the leading role, P.K. or his father?

When Karl Subban was 11, his parents emigrated from Jamaica to Sudbury. His uncle was an electrician working for Inco, and there were plenty of jobs in the mining industry in Northern Ontario back in the early 1970s.

The Subbans settled in the Flour Mill neighbourhood, a francophone community with lots of kids and a rink at the end of Peter Street.

It didn't take long for Karl Subban to wrap his arms around the neighbourhood's passion for hockey and the Montreal Canadiens. His parents bought him a pair of skates from the local Salvation Army store and he immediately was lured to rink.

"It was a wonderful neighbourhood," he said. "I was lucky that the other kids included me in their games.

"I was young enough to pick [the sport] up. I was Ken Dryden, the goalie, and thought I was playing in the NHL. That's all that mattered."

He later would sneak into the Sudbury Arena and watch Dale Hunter, Ron Duguay, Mike Foligno, Hector Marini and Randy Carlyle play junior for the Sudbury Wolves. Many of these players were his classmates at Sudbury Secondary, where Karl Subban also was a big man on campus because he played basketball.

He later went to Lakehead University in Thunder Bay and continued to play basketball before moving to Toronto to pursue a career as a teacher. Karl Subban, an imposing 6 foot 3 and 260 pounds, now runs Brookview Middle School in Toronto's hardscrabble Jane and Finch neighbourhood.

He and Maria, a bank quality-control analyst, have raised their family founded on education and athletics.

Oldest daughter Nastassia, 26, is a middle-school teacher and former York University basketball player. Natasha, 21, had her athletic career cut short because of a back injury and is a budding artist. Sons Malcolm, 14, and Jordan, 12, play AAA bantam and pee-wee hockey for the Toronto Marlboros, respectively.

"I believe introducing them to sport and giving them every opportunity to succeed because I believe it gives young people confidence," Karl Subban said. "When you accomplish something or do something well you have people patting yourself on the back and that gives you a lot of self esteem."

In P.K. Subban's rise to his hockey heights, he credits his parents for the opportunity. He told his parents at a young age he wanted to be like one of those hockey guys on television. So Karl had his first-born son on outdoor rinks, teaching him the fundamentals of the game, putting his kid through drills he learned from hockey school.

"My dad is a teacher, a principal," P.K. said. "Even though he didn't have a hockey background, he studied it. A lot of the things he would work on with me were drills he researched. It's just incredible the amount of information he picked up on. My dad's a pretty knowledgeable guy."

But Karl Subban said he was just copying what his hard-working father did for him.

"You are a function of your own environment," he said.

The enthusiastic P.K. was thrust into the spotlight in June, when the Belleville Bulls blueliner was selected in the second round, 43rd overall, of the NHL draft by Karl's beloved Canadiens, bringing the big man to tears. It was a surprise because P.K. had been pegged middle- to late-round selection.

The reason for P.K.'s sudden rise was because he rose to every challenge.

After his rookie OHL season in Belleville, adjusting to a new level and league and a new town, there was little doubt that he was a budding offensive defenceman. The jury of NHL scouts, however, was still deliberating whether P.K. could become a suitable defender. Then, the Bulls lost Matt Pelech to injury.

Belleville head coach George Burnett asked his offensive defenceman to move to the top pairing and play against the other team's top scorers.

Subban silenced his critics. In the playoffs, he successfully marked Ottawa 67's Jamie McGinn and his linemates. Subban shut down John Tavares and the Oshawa Generals' top unit, as well as Nick Foligno and the Wolves' best line in the OHL Eastern Conference final.

Burnett wasn't surprised.

"He's always responded to the opportunity," the coach said. "I know there are some people who think it was a surprise that P.K. made this team, but I also know the [Canadian junior] program well and they don't name you to this team if they don't think you can get the job done. There are no free rides."

The Subbans know that.



Who's up first? Canada will open the world junior hockey championship today against a jacked-up home team, the Czech Republic. The Czechs last struck gold in this tournament in 2001, when they successfully defended their 2000 title.

On the ice Jonathan Bernier, who began the season with the Los Angeles Kings, will start in goal for Canada. But Steve Mason could play against Slovakia tomorrow. The forward lines in practice the past few days were: Kyle Turris between Brad Marchand and Claude Giroux; Brandon Sutter centred Wayne Simmonds and Stefan Legein; centre Steve Stamkos with Matthew Halischuk and Shawn Matthias. The fourth line will consist of Riley Holzapfel, Zach Boychuk and either Colton Gillies or John Tavares. On the blueline, captain Karl Alzner has been nursing a back injury. If he can play today, he'll be paired with Drew Doughty. If not, Josh Godfrey will replace Alzner. The other two pairings are Thomas Hickey beside Luke Schenn, and P.K. Subban with Logan Pyett.

On a roll Three-time defending champion Canada carries an 18-game win streak into the 2008 tournament. The Canadian juniors haven't lost since they were upended 4-3 in the 2004 final by the United States. The speedy and skilled Canadians, once again, are considered a contender for gold, along with the United States, Czech Republic and Russia.

* The Canadians are young and inexperienced, but speedy and can score. As always, a lot will depend on goalies Jonathan Bernier and Steve Mason. It helps that head coach Craig Hartsburg and his staff was in place last year, when Canada was victorious in Leksand, Sweden.

* The Czech Republic did plenty for its confidence when it beat the United States 5-2 in a pretournament game last weekend. Jakub Voracek, a Columbus Blue Jackets prospect who plays for the Halifax Mooseheads, is one of the top juniors playing in Canada.

* Canada has six junior-aged players in the NHL and unavailable for this tournament, but the United States doesn't have the depth as its neighbours to the north. Therefore, the loss of forwards Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks) and Peter Mueller (Phoenix Coyotes) hurts the 2007 bronze medalists more.

* Russia has lost to Canada in the past three world junior finals after beating its rivals for the gold medal in 2002 and 2003. The Russians were horrible against Canada in the eight-game summer Super Series, but rebounded for two wins in a six-game series against all-star teams from the QMJHL, OHL and WHL.

Tourney tidbits Brent Sutter and Clark Gillies played together on the last two New York Islanders teams that won the Stanley Cup in 1981-82 and 1982-83. Sutter's son, Brandon, and Gilles's nephew, Colton, are teammates on this year's Canadian junior team. ... Canada has won a medal (three gold, four silver, two bronze) in each of the past nine tournaments. ... Canada will play its round-robin games in Pardubice, an industrial city 100 kilometres east of Prague and the hometown of Detroit Red Wings goaltender Dominik Hasek and Edmonton Oilers winger Ales Hemsky.

Tim Wharnsby



With the exception of Wayne Gretzky, Eric Lindros and Sidney Crosby, not many 16- or 17-year-old Canadians have been go-to players at the world junior hockey championship. Joe Thornton, Jason Spezza, Scott Niedermayer and Paul Kariya were all used sparingly in their debuts. That won't be the case for John Tavares and Steve Stamkos, both 17.

Here are five other teenagers to watch:

1. Kyle Turris, Canada

The Phoenix Coyotes' prospect, a forward with the University of Wisconsin, was drafted third overall last year and will be Canada's clutch performer.

2. Kyle Okposo, U.S.

The sophomore forward quit the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers last week and will sign with the New York Islanders after the world juniors.

3. Michal Neuvirth,

Czech Republic

The Windsor Spitfires' goalie took the Plymouth Whalers to the Memorial Cup last season and will have the home crowd behind him.

4. Alexei Cherepanov, Russia

The forward dropped all the way to 17th in the 2007 NHL entry draft because of his inconsistency. Which Cherepanov will show up in the world juniors?

5. Riku Helenius, Finland

The Seattle Thunderbirds' goalie could be next in the line of strong Finnish netminding talent that has invaded the NHL in recent seasons.

Tim Wharnsby



The top three finishers at the world junior hockey championship (since 1993): 2007 Canada, Russia, U.S.

2006 Canada, Russia, Finland.

2005 Canada, Russia, Czech


2004 U.S., Canada, Finland.

2003 Russia, Canada, Finland.

2002 Russia, Canada, Finland.

2001 Czech Republic, Finland, Canada.

2000 Czech Republic, Russia, Canada.

1999 Russia, Canada, Slovakia.

1998 Finland, Russia, Switzerland.

1997 Canada, U.S., Russia.

1996 Canada, Sweden, Russia.

1995 Canada, Russia, Sweden.

1994 Canada, Sweden, Russia.

1993 Canada, Sweden,

Czech Republic-Slovakia.

За 3 место. США - Россия. Голы россиян.
Финал. Швеция - Канада
Финал. Интервью с Марчандом.
Подгруппа А
Канада, Швеция, Чехия, Словакия, Дания
Подгруппа В
Россия, США, Финляндия, Швейцария, Казахстан
За 7-10 места
Слования, Казахстан, Швейцария, Дания

1/4 финала
Канада - Финляндия
Россия - Чехия
1/2 финала
Швеция - Россия
США - Канада
Чехия - Финляндия
США - Россия
Канада - Швеция
Первая страничка турнира
Статистика турнира
Молодежные чемпионаты мира (до 20 лет) 2008 года.
Первая страничка
Дивизион I. Группа А
Дивизион I. Группа B
Дивизион II. Группа А
Дивизион II. Группа B
Дивизион III