When the Vancouver Canucks drafted Jordan Subban in the fourth round of the 2013 NHL entry draft, it meant that all three Subban brothers were drafted to the NHL. In order for that to happen, there has to be a lot of support from parents and that’s certainly true for the Subbans.
Putting three boys through the hockey ranks (as well as two girls through university) isn’t cheap, something the Subbans know all too well. Jordan’s father, Karl, and mother, Maria, made a lot of sacrifices to enable their sons to realize their dream of getting drafted to the NHL. The Subbans now support a program called Hyundai Hockey Helpers that helps underprivileged youth to be able to afford the expensive equipment and registration fees so they can simply go out on the ice and play without worry.
I spoke to Jordan’s brother, the Norris-trophy winning P.K., about the program and chatted briefly with him about seeing his brother get drafted to the Canucks.
Since he is the youngest of the three brothers, I assumed that Jordan would have received the most hand-me-down equipment. P.K. clarified that wasn’t quite the case. “I think Malcolm had the most hand-me-down equipment until he switched to goalie because you couldn’t hand-me-down equipment three times,” he said.
P.K. himself started out with used gear, so it’s certainly understandable that it might be worn out by the time Jordan would fit into it. ”You could probably hand it down once,” agreed P.K., “So Malcolm would get it and Jordan would usually get some of the newer stuff.”
Some, but not all. “He definitely had to use some of my old equipment at some point in time until he made the OHL and he could get his own equipment.”
It helped that Jordan chose to play defence like his oldest brother, unlike Malcolm who switched to goaltender along the way. Goalie equipment can get particularly expensive, but P.K. said that didn’t matter to their parents. “I don’t think we ever worried about that,” he said, “I think it’s more of if he had decided that he wanted to play goalie, we would have made that work too. My parents were great in terms of helping us live out our dreams.”
With one son myself and another due in less than a month, the expense of hockey has been on my mind. I grew up playing mainly soccer and baseball, two sports that involve significantly less equipment and generally cheaper fees than hockey. The Subbans played other sports as well, but gravitated towards hockey. Their parents did everything they could to ensure that the expense of hockey was never a factor, driving to free ice rinks late at night, fundraising by selling chocolate bars, and working multiple jobs.
“I played hockey because I loved the sport,” said P.K., “and I didn’t ever think about…playing another sport because it was cheaper, it’s just a matter of playing a sport that I loved that I grew up watching.”
For Jordan, it wasn’t just that he grew up watching hockey: he grew up watching his brothers playing hockey. “I think that, with myself playing, Malcolm and Jordan had interest in playing too,” said P.K., “As a brother, when your younger brothers look up to they want to do the things you’re doing. It was very easy for them to get involved because of myself and my parents. They wanted to help Malcolm and Jordan like they helped me.”
Jordan had the extra adversity of being undersized compared to his brothers, causing him to fall all the way to the fourth round despite P.K. frequently describing Jordan as having the highest skill level of the Subban brothers. P.K. thinks that size doesn’t even enter into it for Jordan. “It’s a concern to some people, but it’s not a concern to Jordan,” he said, “That’s the important thing. A lot of people had concerns about my game when I was coming up, but they were never concerns for me, that’s why I was as successful as I’ve been.”
While only P.K. has actually made the NHL at this point, having all three brothers drafted is a big step in itself. “I think it was pretty amazing,” enthused P.K., “to be on that stage with both of them, with all of us being drafted to the NHL, Having the NHL take pictures of us in jerseys and stuff like that, it was a pretty unique situation. It’s history, you know?”
“Jordan was picked by Vancouver and he’s very happy there and I know that he enjoyed his development camp,” continued P.K. “I spoke to him yesterday about the experience. He’s very excited to be a part of that organization and he’s very excited about starting his career there, so at the end of the day, we’re just happy to have three boys that are drafted to the NHL and have an opportunity to live out their dreams.”
“We’re very blessed, we’re very thankful of the opportunities that we were given and all I hope is that other kids have the same opportunities that I’ve had and my brothers have had.”
That’s what makes the Hyundai Hockey Helpers program so special. Parents who need help with the costs of hockey can apply through the Hockey Helpers website, which also accepts donations into the program, and, if eligible, receive grants for registration and equipment. The program helps, at minimum, 1000 kids per year.
While these kids may never get drafted into the NHL like P.K. and his brothers, they still get the opportunity to play hockey, an opportunity they might otherwise never have, and hockey is its own reward.Tags: Interviews, Jordan Subban, Malcolm Subban, P.K. Subban