When the blockbuster trade was made last summer that saw P.K. Subban leave Montreal for Nashville in exchange for Shea Weber, nobody was really sure which team got the better of the deal.
Time will ultimately tell. But on the eve of the Stanley Cup Finals, the Predators are very happy with Subban, 28, who has fit in with a talented defense and has been one of the leaders in Nashville’s march to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Coach Peter Laviolette encouraged Subban to play to his strengths. Subban has loved Nashville from the moment he arrived, and the results are proof of that.
“He’s a terrific player, and I think he’s just worked on fitting inside of the concept of how we want to play as a team, as do the other defensemen, as do the forwards,” Laviolette said of Subban. “There’s not a lot of individual meetings that say we expect this out of you. What we say is we expect you to play your game inside of what we do, and I think he’s done that.
“He’s really comfortable. He’s a terrific guy. He’s coachable. You can talk to him. He understands when you put something on the table, and he can find a different way to do that, and he gets that. Then he learns from that, and I think he tries to implement that on the ice, as well.”
Though he had more points last season with the Canadiens (51) than this year with Nashville (40), Subban, who missed 16 games this year because of injury, has raised his game in the postseason. In 16 playoff games, he has 10 points and is a plus-6 heading into Game 1 of the Finals Monday.
First shall be last?
If history is any indication, the Penguins will win the Stanley Cup.
According to the NHL, in recent seasons, the team that has qualified first for the Finals has lost. In 2013, the Boston Bruins made it first only to lose to Chicago. The following year, the New York Rangers got in before the Los Angeles Kings only to have the Kings win the Cup.
In 2015, Tampa Bay qualified for the Finals first only to fall to the Blackhawks. And last year, the San Jose Sharks punched their ticket to the Finals first only to come up short against Pittsburgh.
This year, the Predators qualified for the Finals three days before the Penguins.
Second try on trademark
Golden Knights majority owner Bill Foley said the paperwork to seek trademark approval from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is ready to be filed in a second attempt to secure the trademark to the team nickname.
The team was denied approval in November after the College of Saint Rose, a Division II Catholic school in Albany, New York, objected to the use of the nickname by the NHL expansion club. Saint Rose, which has an enrollment of 4,211, claimed Foley infringed on its trademark “Golden Knights” for its athletic teams.
Saint Rose does not sponsor ice hockey.
Foley thought about trying to negotiate some sort of agreement with the school. Instead, his attorneys and the NHL have advised him to go ahead and refile the paperwork with the Patent and Trademark Office.
“I don’t see how you can mistake one for another,” Foley said. “There are a lot of schools with Golden Knights as their nickname. We’re the only professional ice hockey team with the name.”
The current financial problems of the Kontinental Hockey League bears watching.
Metallurg Novokuznetsk, which had a 14-46 record and small crowds this season, has folded. It became the second KHL team to not return next season. In March, Croatian team Medvescak Zagreb said it would withdraw to join the Austrian-based EBEL for 2017-18.
The KHL also owes its players nearly $18 million in back pay. Some players may use it as an opportunity to opt out of their KHL contracts and look to play in the NHL.
Obviously, not every KHL player is good enough to play in the NHL. But the KHL is considered the second-best hockey league in the world after the NHL. If there’s a growing pool of KHL free agents, you know all 31 NHL teams will be looking at signing some of them.
In a previous version of this story, it was incorrectly reported that College of Saint Rose had complained to the bureau leading to the rejection of the NHL team’s request. The school never was actively involved and the rejection was made by the Patent and Trademark Office in reviewing the Golden Knights’ submission.
Steve Carp’s weekly NHL notebook appears Sundays. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. Follow @stevecarprj on Twitter.
Week’s three stars:
1. Chris Kunitz, Pittsburgh. Scored twice, including the series clincher in second OT of Game 7 to put Penguins in Stanley Cup Finals.
2. Colton Sissons, Nashville. His hat trick in Game 6 vs. Anaheim guided the Predators to their first Cup Finals appearance.
3. Erik Karlsson, Ottawa. Despite playing hurt all postseason, Senators’ all-star defenseman was the most dominant player on ice in each series.