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Yackety yak! Subban's back

Norris Trophy winner and noted chinwag on ice tonight

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P.K. Subban talks the talk, and with a Norris on his shelf, he walks the walk.

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

P.K. Subban talks the talk, and with a Norris on his shelf, he walks the walk. Photo Store

P.K. Subban has always been a good conversationalist, and it's never mattered whether it's before, during or after the game.

Now the multi-talented 24-year-old Montreal Canadiens defenceman has something better for his resume, the 2013 Norris Trophy, and tonight is the one chance you'll have to see him live and in person this season at the MTS Centre.

The Jets and Habs face off at 7 p.m., Montreal's only visit of 2013-14.

In a close vote over Minnesota's Ryan Suter, Subban took home the Norris after a season of 38 points in 42 games, and plus-12.

"It's obviously a great individual achievement, but when your team goes from 15th to second, there's a lot of help and support there, from our goaltender, to the guys on the power play to the team and the system, the commitment from everybody really helped me," Subban said Monday after Montreal's practice here. "It's also the coach showing confidence in me by putting me out there."

As it showed again in the Habs' 4-1 win Saturday in Vancouver, Subban is not just one to spend the night minding his own business. He continues to be eager to express his opinions, be they ice-breakers or responses.

"I think there's a big microscope on me as a player," Subban said Monday. "There are a lot of other players out there that do the same thing, if not worse, than I do. But for some reason, people like talking about me.

"That's fine. It doesn't bother me. It doesn't rub me the wrong way. Really, if people want to keep talking about me and putting my name out there, then it's more familiar, people are going to get to know me and get to know my team. That's a positive thing.

"I don't look into anything. I don't have to justify what I do on the ice to anybody as long as our team's winning and I'm helping the team be successful. That's all that matters."

As with many stars, there are supporters and critics.

One of Subban's new teammates has some perspective in this area, former rival and Philadelphia Flyers centre Daniel Briere, who joined Montreal this summer after being bought out by the Flyers.

"Playing against him, you could tell he was very talented," Briere said Monday. "But to be on his side, it's even more impressive. I love his enthusiasm every day. He's fun to be around. You try to feed off of him. It's fun to see. I guess you appreciate it even more when you have him on your side."

Briere was asked point-blank: "Is Subban a pain in the butt to play against?"

"Yeah, because he talks a lot," Briere said. "He's kind of out there. He's always in your face. Yeah, he's tough to play against. It's nice to have him on your side instead."

In the early days of last season in his new job, Canadiens' coach Michel Therrien -- who has opted recently to put Subban with veteran Andrei Markov as a defence pair with good chemistry -- reportedly told Subban to tone down some elements of his on-ice behaviour. Celebrations were one item noted.

But Subban said Therrien has given him much rope to grow as a player.

"Most of all, before anybody guides you any way, you just grow as a player and a person," Subban said. "Every year goes by, you get older, you learn from mistakes, how to grow, how to get better, how to be a more complete player, a more consistent player. When you win the Norris Trophy, you can't be doing too many things wrong.

"I just have to continue to work hard and come to the rink every day with the mentality that I can learn more and get better. I'm always eager to learn because I still think there are so many aspects to my game that aren't developed yet, that need to continue to grow. It's a credit to the coaching staff who put me in such a great position."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 15, 2013 C2

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