Subban earns his keep with the Canadiens

The Tampa game, a shootout loss for the Habs, illustrated why Subban is a unique commodity: no other defenceman brings quite the same combination of rise-out-of-your-seat offensive dynamism, punishing physicality and defensive intelligence.

Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings comes closest, followed by another player who spent his youth in the Toronto area playing against Subban: St. Louis Blues rearguard Alex Pietrangelo.

Doughty signed an eight-year, $56-million contract in 2011; Pietrangelo signed a seven-year, $45.5-million contract before this season.

The knock on Subban is he doesn’t play heavy minutes and is risky defensively, but in the 81 minutes 3 seconds he’s played since being taken to task by head coach Michel Therrien after a loss to Colorado on Nov. 2, Subban has been on the ice for two goals against at even strength.

You’d like him to show he can be airtight in his own end? Okay. Also want him lead the team in scoring? He can do that, too.

What he can’t or won’t do is talk about his contract.

“At this point in the season, where we’re struggling to get wins, it’s probably the last thing you want to be talking about as a player … it’s got to be about the team right now,” Subban said before a team flight to Columbus on Thursday.

Subban’s irrepressible, though. At one point, he said of Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin, “he’s a good-looking guy, he’s a smart guy,” waited a beat, and added: “I think he would say the same thing about me.”

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