PITB chats with PK Subban about the draft, his brother Jordan, and Hyundai Hockey Helpers

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.

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12 comments

  1. Nee
    July 17, 2013

    Great article Daniel (and PK). Nice to hear from the players themselves. PK is obviously very proud of his bros (and for good reason).

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  2. madwag
    July 17, 2013

    great post, danielson! perhaps the best of the off season. cheers.

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  3. PeeSeeGee
    July 17, 2013

    Great article Daniel, also struggling with the Hockey decision. I didn’t grow up in Canada and didn’t ‘play the game’ but my 3 year old daughter asked me during the cup finals if she could play. Now I am looking at skating lessons and trying to figure out how it all works.

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  4. stonecoldstevebernier
    July 17, 2013

    That NHL.com link only lists brothers that were drafted in the first round, the Subbans aren’t on there. I know for sure that all three Ruutus were drafted so the Subbans, Staals, and Sutters aren’t the only sets of three drafted brothers, and there’s probably more that I can’t think of. Nice interview though!

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    • Daniel Wagner
      July 17, 2013

      Good call, completely misread that link. My bad.

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  5. Dan
    July 17, 2013

    Awesome article! As a huuuuge P.K. Subban fan, when I read that my favourite hockey blog PitB got to chat with him I flipped! I’m excited for what the future has in store for all of them, but especially Jordan. He has a lot of pressure on him already from circumstances and his name so best of luck to him!

    I can’t imagine how much it costs to put so many kids through their dreams, the Subbans are wonderful parents. It’s great that people get the opportunity to play hockey through the programs if they can’t afford them. Everyone should be able to play this awesome sport.

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  6. ColbyD
    July 17, 2013

    Anyone else a little nervous how PK always has to say good things about him?

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    • Nee
      July 18, 2013

      Eh, it’s just typical family behavior. PK’s not exactly an objective evaluator of his brother’s talent. It’s pretty much hard wired into your brain to talk about how great your sibling is, especially if he’s the subject of the interview. I’d be very much surprised if he’s as good as PK.

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      • Colby
        July 18, 2013

        I agree and I want Jordan to be successfull. I just didn’t hear the same tire pumping about Malcolm. I think maybe it is a bit unfair for the Norris trophy winner to put that kind of pressure on his brother.

        That being said I am excited that Gillis took a bit of a chance (for him).

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        • Brian
          July 19, 2013

          Unfair? PK is his brother, he can say what he likes, if he believes he is the most skilled great but I doubt that puts more pressure on Jordan. Jordan also was selected 1st round in the OHL draft compared to PK’s 6th round selection. I imagine a bit of that has to do with the name on his back but I’m sure Belleville were impressed with his skill level as well. I also think it would be very hard of PK to say Malcolm is the most skilled as it is impossible to compare skill level of skaters to goalies. I’m just stoked that we got him as late as we did and that Gilis took a high risk/ high reward player instead of his usual overage big bodied safe picks in the late rounds.

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  7. Matt
    July 18, 2013

    Congrats on the new baby, Daniel!

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  8. Cal
    July 20, 2013

    If I had more estrogen I would cry tears of joy. Instead this article fills me with manly pride and makes me proud to be Canadian. Great article Daniel! Keep up the great work keeping Canucks Fans (even in London, Ontario) entertained year round. I hope they pay you well…

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