Subban in tears during long Bell Centre ovation in first game back with Preds

Subban in tears during long Bell Centre ovation in first game back with Preds

MONTREAL — The tears came even as P.K. Subban smiled and waved to the Bell Centre fans.

Tears streaked his cheeks as the former Canadiens defenceman got a long standing ovation before his first game back in Montreal as a Nashville Predator on Thursday night.

Chants of “P.K., P.K.” filled the 21,000 seat arena as a video montage of his flashy moves on the ice as a Canadien from 2009 until he was dealt to Nashville last June 29. The Toronto native stood at the blue-line with his teammates for the pre-game tribute and soaked it all in.

Subban was injured when the Canadien won 2-1 in Nashville in January, so it was his first game against the team that drafted him in the second round in 2007 and then watched him blossom into a star. Subban, who won a Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenceman in 2013, helped the Canadiens become a contender in the league’s Eastern Conference.

Along the way, he became hugely popular, not only for his skill and go-for-broke style on the ice, but for his bubbly personality, his close connection with the fans and his charitable works.

On Wednesday, he was awarded a medal for meritorious service by Governor General David Johnston for his 2015 pledge to raise $10 million for the Montreal Children’s Hospital.

Many fans were crushed when general manager Marc Bergevin opted to trade Subban to Nashville for Shea Weber in a swap of star defencemen.

But the fans showed they haven’t forgotten. Many wore jerseys, either from the Canadiens or the Predators, with his No. 76 on the back.

Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press

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