P.K. Subban: One of the Most Dynamic Defensemen in History
Pernell-Karl Subban, known to most as P.K., is one of the most dynamic defensemen in recent memory. His electrifying play on the ice combines with his equally-charismatic personality off-ice into a person who is both beloved and criticized, often at the same time. But regardless of how you view him, he is one of the game’s most interesting players. Here are seven elements of Subban’s life, both on and off the ice, that make him unique and interesting.
1. From Caribbean to Canada
As a black athlete in the NHL, Subban is already a non-traditional player, but it’s his background that makes him more interesting. Both of his parents immigrated to Canada from Caribbean islands before he was born. His father, Karl, was born in Jamaica while his mother, Maria, is from Montserrat in the Leeward Islands. Both moved to Canada in 1970.
2. Born into a Sports Family
You could say that the Subban children were born to be athletes and that would be an accurate statement. Growing up in Jamaica, Karl played cricket and soccer. However, when his family moved to Canada, he quickly fell in love with hockey. His parents bought him a pair of used skates from the local Salvation Army so that he could fit in with kids his age. Although he never played hockey at a high level, he became a lifelong fan of the sport and instilled that love in his children.
Maria was also athletic and took her abilities to a higher level. In high school, she won a provincial gold medal as part of a 4 x 100 meter relay team. That athleticism was passed onto she and Karl’s children, including the eldest, Natassia, a basketball player. By the time Natassia graduated from Lakehead University, she was the all-time leading scorer in Ontario university history.
3. A Trio of NHL Brothers
Yet despite the Subbans’ overall athleticism, hockey remained the dominant sport in the family and all three of their youngest children, P.K., Malcolm, and Jordan, were drafted by NHL clubs. Pretty much every hockey fan knows of P.K., the oldest brother and a member of the New Jersey Devils. In 2017-18, middle brother Malcolm, a goaltender, was pivotal for the Vegas Golden Knights as he stepped in for the injured Marc-Andre Fleury. At the 2020 Trade Deadline, he was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks. Youngest brother Jordan, also a defenseman, currently plays in Austria’s EBEL.
Growing up, Karl and Maria did everything possible to provide opportunities for their sons. They created a backyard rink and even let the boys practice inside, using piano legs for a net. When P.K. was young, Karl, who worked two jobs and didn’t get home until after 10 p.m., would take his son skating late at night in order to spend time with him. As the oldest brother, P.K. may have been the only one to receive new equipment as Malcolm and Jordan received his hand-me-downs, but all three had parental support.
P.K. also set the tone for the brothers’ junior hockey careers as all three played for the OHL’s Belleville Bulls, a franchise that has since moved to Hamilton and became the Bulldogs. In the 2007 Draft, the Montreal Canadiens took him in the second round despite not being expected to go that early. Malcolm was originally a skater before switching to goalie while playing AAA hockey and struggled to get drafted into the OHL.
He found success with the Bulls and was the highest draft pick of the trio as the Boston Bruins used a 2012 first-round pick on him. He has since been claimed off waivers by the Golden Knights. Jordan is an undersized 5-foot-9 blueliner who plays a style similar to P.K. He was ranked as the 55th-best North American skater in 2013, his draft year, but fell to the Vancouver Canucks in the fourth round. He has since been dealt to the Los Angeles Kings and signed with the Maple Leafs in 2018-19.
Learn More: 7 Things About P.K. Subban