P.K. Subban was back in Nashville on Monday.
But in at least one way it’s like the former Predators defenseman never left.
Subban, who retired in the offseason, was in town to be honored by the franchise on P.K. Subban Night for his contributions during his three seasons with the team, which included its only Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2017 and two All-Star selections.
One of Subban’s biggest and most lasting contributions is the Blueline Buddy program, which brings together local youth with local law enforcement officers every Predators home game.
The program continued with Roman Josi and others after Subban was traded to the New Jersey Devils in 2019.
On Monday, Subban met with some of those Blueline Buddies and was able to sneak in a few hellos to some former teammates, even jumping into their pregame soccer game.
“I don’t feel like I can take credit for it,” Subban said of Blueline Buddies, which began in 2017. “The organization needs to take a lot of credit as well for embracing it and wanting to take that idea and run with it — and they did.”
Predators general manager David Poile said Subban’s contributions not only on the ice during the “best years of our franchise,” but off it as well.
“Off the ice he is really special in terms of all the things he did in the community with Blueline Buddies,” Poile said. “What a great idea and something that’s going to go on for a long time. He’s a real good person, a caring person.”
Metro Police Chief John Drake said Subban’s impact on Nashville and the surrounding communities “is tremendous.”
“He came in during a time there was civil unrest from incidents around the country,” Drake said. “There was a divide in the community and law enforcement. … P.K. wanted to bridge those gaps, and that’s so important to do in a time when we were so deeply divided. The impact is tremendous.”
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Predators coach John Hynes coached Subban when both were in New Jersey, so his contributions on and off the ice aren’t lost on him.
“He’s unique in a sense,” Hynes said. “He was fun to be around, fun to coach, passion for the game, passion for life. He has some flair to him, but I enjoyed my time with him … getting to know him.
“I think when you go through a lot of things he’s done for the NHL on and off the ice, is important to be recognized.”
Subban had 35 goals and 95 assists in 211 regular-season games with Nashville after he was acquired in a trade from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for former Predators captain Shea Weber.