McKeen's recently had the opportunity to conduct a Q&A with Belleville Bulls defenseman P.K. Subban, following his first NHL training camp with the Montreal Canadiens. P.K. talks about his game, the fan support in Montreal, playing with Saku Koivu, his upcoming season in the OHL and his overall training camp experience.
McKeen's: Have you ever trained with a "stickhandling guru" before? What were your thoughts on working with Sean Skinner?
Subban: I have never trained with any "stickhandling guru" before, but I thought that Sean's mentality in showing us new moves and techniques was just to try and add another dimension to our game, and I thought his advice was productive and interesting.
McKeen's: How has your experience been thus far working with Canadiens strength and conditioning coordinator Scott Livingston. Is there a set workout regime that you are required to follow for in-season maintenance training?
Subban: It has been great. At the beginning of the summer, Scott had given every player a workout manual to follow during the season with some exercises in it to help us maintain the strength we gained over the summer.
McKeen's: Describe what you felt when you saw the overwhelming support of Canadiens fans during the first three days of scrimmages?
Subban: It was amazing, definitely one of the best feelings I have ever had.
McKeen's: Does the Canadiens organization prepare the younger players in advance of what to expect from the amount of media coverage and fan support?
Subban: I must say they did a really good job in preparing us for the media in Montreal. We went through different kinds of seminars in development camp to help us gain knowledge.
McKeen's: During the first three scrimmages you played on the same team as captain Saku Koivu. Did he say much to you and is there anything from that experience that you will take back with you to Belleville?
Subban: To be honest with you, it was a great feeling. Actually, I remember a specific time stepping on the ice and hearing one of the loudest cheers of the camp. I thought to myself, are they cheering for me? Then I turned around and Saku was behind me. He smiled and told me the cheer was for me, when he knew it was for him. It was pretty funny, but I will definitely take the leadership advice he gave to me back to my team in Belleville and help them be successful.
McKeen's: Which five younger players impressed you the most during training camp and why?
Subban: Well it would be really tough to pick only five guys. I mean everyone stepped up to the challenge and played well so it would be hard for me to just pick five players. It would not be fair.
McKeen's: Which veterans surprised you the most in terms of their skill and/or speed?
Subban: They all surprised, but not so much with their skill and speed but with their experience on the ice. It seemed certain guys would always make the right play and be in the right position.
McKeen's: Are there any aspects of your game that the Canadiens coaching staff specifically asked you to work on this season?
Subban: They asked me just to continue to keep working hard and using my skills to get the puck up to my forwards as quick as possible.
McKeen's: How does the big rink in Belleville aid your game and conversely, what do you focus on when playing in smaller rinks?
Subban: The rink in Belleville is fun to play in just because you have a lot of room to skate and that is what I like to do. I don't really focus on anything different when I'm playing on a smaller rink, other than you won't have as much time and your decisions have to be quicker, but other than that, I play the same way in every rink.
McKeen's: What were your impressions of your first pro-training camp in terms of your performance, the jump in skill level and overall expectations?
Subban: Well, I was really happy with my performance and the impression I left on the coaching staff. I thought I played well and showed them what I could do. I was really surprised at the fact that their is not much of a difference between players in the NHL, AHL and even the OHL. I think the only major difference is the experience of the older players.
McKeen's: Finally, what are your goals for the upcoming season?
Subban: To help my team (Belleville Bulls) win the Memorial Cup.