BROSSARD, Que. — P.K. Subban received praise from several corners Thursday for his huge donation to a local children’s hospital, with everyone from his Montreal Canadiens teammates to the Quebec premier applauding the star defenceman.
“It’s amazing for a guy like that to do something like that,” defenceman Nathan Beaulieu said at the opening of training camp. “What he did was a big statement.
“He set the bar high for all athletes, not just hockey players. For him to step up and donate, not just money, but his time and putting his name, his label to the hospital as well, is something special. We have big shoes to fill but he’s a good guy to follow.”
Subban pledged at least $10 million over the next seven years to the Montreal Children’s Hospital. The partnership with the hospital foundation will include the creation of P.K.’s Helping Hand, a fund dedicated to assisting families financially hurt by a child’s illness.
Geoff Molson, the Canadiens owner and president, hailed the donation as another example of players giving back to the community.
“A lot of our players step up,” said Molson. “Everyone has their own way of doing things.
“Sometimes it’s a big announcement like this one and sometimes it could be just a thing a player does with one person that makes a difference. I think all of our players have learned through our organization the importance of giving back to the community and it’s part of our culture.”
Many fans and media felt the donation may put Subban in the lead among candidates to become the Canadiens’ next captain. General manager Marc Bergevin said a captain will be named before the end of camp, with Subban, Max Pacioretty, Andrei Markov and Tomas Plekanec the leading candidates.
“I don’t think it has anything to do with the selection of a captain,” said Molson. “The process Marc has developed to select a captain is well underway and has been going on since the end of last season. That’s really something that’s in his hands right now.”
Asked if Subban will be perceived differently now by fans, Molson said: “As a hockey player, no. As a person, probably yes. We learned a lot about P.K. yesterday.”
The hospital is calling it the largest philanthropic commitment ever made by a professional athlete in Canada.
Arriving at the National Assembly in Quebec City, Premier Philippe Couillard thanked Subban “in the name of all Quebecers.
“This gesture introduces him to a group of big Quebec families, personalities, who have made important gestures for our community,” Couillard said.
None of the Canadiens long-standing veterans, including Subban, was made available to the media as camp opened with physical examinations and photo sessions. The 58 players in camp have their first on-ice session on Friday.
Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press