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The Upper Canadien

Marchand and Subban: Double Standard?

Bruce Dowbiggin of the Globe and Mail seems to think so:

One final thought on rookie Marchand: How come when he abuses a superstar he’s applauded by Hockey Night in Canada and the media as a savvy kid who gets under the skin to win. But when Montreal Canadiens rookie P.K. Subban did the same, we were told by the same voices that he was a punk with no respect who needed to be taken down a notch? Is it because Marchand is a Bruin, a sacred squad on Hockey Night, because Sedin is a European or because Marchand is white while Subban is black, or all of the above. Take all the time you need to answer.

Interesting to see Dowbiggin broach a subject that many Habs fans have been simmering with all year.

The entire article, snippets on the media and sports coverage, can be found here in Dowbiggin’s excellent column, a must read for all hockey fans.

The Usual Suspects

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habman's avatar

I’ve wondered about that ever since Subban began to become so popular in Montreal. Why is this kid’s exuberance and talent so frightening to so many people? The Marchand hit was a beauty….clean and hard. The anger that it caused…and the statement made by Philadelphia’s Mike Richards about Subban not respecting veteran players…. really made me wonder about things like racism. What…is Subban supposed to just stand around and let the opposition do what they want…or is he supposed to do what the Canadiens drafted him…and pay him to do…and that’s stop the opposition with clean…hard play? 
During the playoffs I was definitely wondering why Marchand playing the same style was being applauded…and I definitely couldn’t ignore the racial overtones of what was happening.
I’ll definitely be watching this coming season.

Posted by habman on 06/20/11 at 12:45 AM ET



Says it all.

Posted by Sidney Poitier on 06/20/11 at 01:03 AM ET


Posted by Sidney Poitier on 06/19/11 at 11:03 PM ET

Why does Don Cherry’s hypocrisy “say it all”?

Posted by Garth on 06/20/11 at 01:18 AM ET


I don’t doubt that there is racism involved. Conscious? Maybe not, but we should all be trying to address ingrained patterns of thinking that might be prejudiced.

I did find it absolutely infuriating when Subban went down easy in the corner (not just easy—no contact at all!), didn’t get the call, and was shown guffawing on the bench when the jumbotron replayed the dive.

It can be hard to tell what part of my dislike for him is rational, what part comes from the traditional rivalry between the Bruins and the Habs, and what part (if any) can only be explained by hidden racist attitudes on my part. I like to think that it’s all reason and rivalry, no racism, but the wider climate of criticism for Subban is so pervasive, and uses such loaded language (cocky? Sounds almost like uppity) that I can’t pretend that racism has no effect.

Posted by K on 06/20/11 at 01:22 AM ET


Yeah.  Montreal Canadiens fans complaining about stereotypes, after being highly francophone for… ever?

I’m making popcorn.  The towering hypocrisy should be salty enough.  Needs moar butter.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 06/20/11 at 01:28 AM ET


Probably a false comparison.

One hit aside, Marchand hasn’t really done anything that goes beyond run-of-the-mill agitation (think Max Talbot or Matt Hendricks). Subban’s on-ice behavior, (when he crosses lines) is more like that of Burrows (embarrassing injury-faking) or Lapierre (general gutlessness). Both those guys elicit much harsher treatment than Marchand from the same people saying bad things about Subban.

The thing Subban does that bothers me the most is that in both of the fights I’ve seen him in, he throws a haymaker before the other guy’s prepared and then turtles before the other guy can fire back. Fight the guy or don’t fight the guy, PK. Don’t try to knock him out when he’s unprepared then cover up.

That said, the Canadian media spent way too much time complaining about every little thing Subban did, best exemplified by that article about Hal Gill giving the rookie a brotherly what-for where the author painted it as some sinister breach between players.

Is that racism?

It’s a fair question, but Marchand’s not the right guy to use to illustrate that point. Note, though, that racism isn’t a prerequisite for favorable or unfavorable media treatment. Colby Armstrong’s ended or derailed more careers on headshots than Steve Downie and Matt Cooke combined, but you’d never know that by picking up a newspaper or watching CBC.

My own sense is that PK is too skilled a player with too bright a future to be wasting his time and energy with all the nonsense. Incidentally, Subban’s not alone in that: Sidney Crosby and Ryan Kesler took a little while to learn basically the same lesson.

Also, Richards is a baby. That is all.

Posted by steviesteve on 06/20/11 at 01:30 AM ET


One more thing.

I’d just like to note that Max Lapierre (who I referenced as someone who behaves similarly to Subban) is a much more gutless, bs player than PK Subban and that I hate his guts.

Posted by steviesteve on 06/20/11 at 01:34 AM ET


Marchand dives, calls people out in the media, takes runs at people, doesn’t back up his on-ice antics (1 fight with Andrew *#$%@& Cogliano?), has been suspended for targeting someone’s head, “disrespects” veterans… But it’s ok because he looks like a good old boy.

Posted by Tom C from Toronto on 06/20/11 at 01:46 AM ET


Another Globe and Mail columnist stirring the pot.  This guy Dowbiggin writes one dopey muckraking article after another.  Everyone likes Jarome Iginla , he’ll drop em and stand up for himself, so will Evander Kane etc.  I’m picking black players as an example because the Subban issues have nothing to do with race.  He’s a punk, who does his dirty work and then runs behind the officials.  Let him go toe to toe with a couple of guys and you won’t hear any complaints.  He plays a chicken$hit game.  I don’t see any other players black or white or green that play the way he does.  You can see how that style endeared the Canucks to so many people.

Posted by 13 user names on 06/20/11 at 01:55 AM ET


Marchand is as gutless as they come. A good player to be sure, but a small kid who couldn’t hurt a fly. He hides behind Lucic, Thornton and Chara… and who can blame him - he’d get his head bashed in if he fought just about anybody.

Now that Marchand has established himself in the playoffs as one of the better offensive threats for Boston, he’ll get plenty of invitations to dance. I hope one of those is from PK. As for PK, I’m sure he’d accept more invitations to fight, but he simply won’t be allowed to go as he’s the best D man on the team. PK also has no one protecting him - unlike Marchand.

PK does dive and play with an edge, but he’s by no means alone in this league. Heck, even Chara was caught diving in the first round of the playoffs. The level of hatred directed his wayhas more to do with his standing as one of the better players on the Habs. Simply put, PK is going to impact whoever you like on your team at some point during the game - so he will piss you off. Get used to it. He’s only going to get bigger and stronger in the next few years.

As for the bias, it’s mostly CBC-led. Cherry is pro Boston, so is Milbury and so is PJ Stock. So when they cheer on Marchand for slapping around Sedin as opposed to their reaction when Subban hounded Crosby throughout the playoffs (last year, not this year) and successfully outplayed one of the best players on the planet… it’s not so much racism as cheerleading. The CBC should address this imbalance. It’s not normal for a national network to be so hopelessly in love with a team from down south.

Posted by Marc10 from Sydney, Oz on 06/20/11 at 03:02 AM ET

Hippy Dave's avatar

C’mon now, Canada’s special kind of racism is in play.  Clearly, it’s Halifax, Nova Scotia vs. Toronto, Ontario here.  Those darn city boys vs. a fine, uhm, fishin’ town?

Color me confused.

Posted by Hippy Dave from Portland by way of Detroit on 06/20/11 at 04:30 AM ET

Steve Strowbridge's avatar

As for the bias, it’s mostly CBC-led. Cherry is pro Boston, so is Milbury and so is PJ Stock.

That’s why Cherry picked Vancouver to win? Not arguing the Milbury thing but if you watched the final on CBC and only saw a Boston bias, then we watched a different series.

Posted by Steve Strowbridge from St. John's, NL, CA on 06/20/11 at 05:38 AM ET

shanetx's avatar

That’s why Cherry picked Vancouver to win?

Predicting what everything thought was a Juggernaut going into the series clearly doesn’t mean he wasn’t pro-Boston, it just means he didn’t think they would win.

Posted by shanetx from Floydada, Texas on 06/20/11 at 07:54 AM ET

Da lil Guy's avatar

Subban’s chirpiness, more than his physical play, seems to be what gets under people’s skin. That, I think, filters down to the ‘hockey people’ in the media as well.

Jordin Tootoo isn’t a white guy either, he’s made a career out of hard (sometimes borderline) hits,  and has never really discriminated when it comes to star players.

Another reason Subban gets the gears, I think, is because of the fact that he has obvious talent. Subban (like Downie and Cooke) would be fine players even without the sharp element to their game. Maybe even better players.

Posted by Da lil Guy from Guelph, Ontario on 06/20/11 at 11:22 AM ET


Wow we are really saying that criticism of Subban is racially motivated.Give me a break.I dont like him or players like him because they dont have the BALLS to stick up for themselves.Subban and his diving antics and cheap shots makes hockey look like a joke.Guys like Marchand and their cheap shots are just as bad.These guys wont stick up for themselves.The idiot officials in the NHL let these guys get away with it and degrade the game.For all the talk about protecting players,I dont care if its a star or a grinder,they do very little to enforce it.

Posted by bobnoakridge from Oak Ridge, TN on 06/20/11 at 11:27 AM ET


i am so tired of the racism card always being played.  Here in the US we hear it constantly whenever someone questions Obama.  Honestly, can people quit with the race thing already.

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 06/20/11 at 11:52 AM ET

bezukov's avatar

i am so tired of the racism card always being played.  Here in the US we hear it constantly whenever someone questions Obama.  Honestly, can people quit with the race thing already.

People raise the racism issue because its still relevant.  Now, I’m not going to go as far as to call the whole Canadian hockey press racist, but the NHL, its TV personalities, and its writers consist of a whole lot of good ol’ boys.  Be it Don Cherry for racism, Milbury for sexism, or Melrose for taking a non-stance on gay baiting, the NHL has a bevy of problems on the prejudice front.  The problem is even bigger because these morons are some of the NHL’s most prominent faces and voices.

Racism might have nothing or everything to do with the criticism of Subban, I really don’t know, but it does raise questions that the league needs to face.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 06/20/11 at 12:19 PM ET

Steve Strowbridge's avatar

The author of this article works for the largest national newspaper in Canada and couldn’t reach out to PK for his opinion on the subject?

Posted by Steve Strowbridge from St. John's, NL, CA on 06/20/11 at 02:12 PM ET


I think you are omitting two very relevant points in this discussion.
First of all, part of the reason Subban was criticized for his actions is he is a rookie and hasn’t done anything to prove himself in the league yet.  While Marchand is also a rookie, the way he played in the playoffs has garnered him a lot of respect throughout the league.  Therefore Marchand is given more leeway than Subban because of it.
Additionally, you have to look at the teams involved.  So many people have taken issue with the way the Canucks played this year (diving, cheap shots, biting, etc.) that things they normally would have taken offense to were accepted as justified because of the Canucks reputation.

Posted by grndlprm on 06/20/11 at 03:25 PM ET


Great comments guys. I neither agree or disagree with Dowbiggin (at least here), but I felt it was important to raise this as I hear it discussed regularly amongst my circle of friends and family. Regardless of the different cards that can be played, it is a fair question, as Subban has been treated far differently from many players who play a different style. I’d also be curious to hear Subban’s opinion on all of this.

Posted by The Upper Canadien from Toronto on 06/20/11 at 07:37 PM ET

Steve Strowbridge's avatar

I sent him a tweet about it earlier today with a link to the article. If he gets back to me, I’ll be sure to reply here.

Posted by Steve Strowbridge from St. John's, NL, CA on 06/20/11 at 07:38 PM ET

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The Upper Canadien is your one stop shop for all things Montreal Canadiens. Since the summer of 2010, I've been providing Habs related news, notes, and most importantly, opinions. As a blogger, I don't believe it's my job to report the news, it's my privilege to comment on it. You may disagree with what I suggest. In fact, you most likely will. But that's the great part about blogging: it spurs opinion, comment and engages all involved. I've really enjoyed all the debate and commentary from readers thus far and I encourage everyone to respond with ideas on lineups, trades, logos, sweaters, mascots, whatever. The Upper Canadien is a conversation for all hockey fanatics.

I've come to Kukla's Korner with four years of campus radio and three years of sportswriting from my time at Mount Allison University on Canada's East coast. Not only do I not have any professional journalistic training, after five years in the corporate world, I've spent much of the past two years completing an MBA. Business by day, hockey by night, I'm a Canadiens fan through and through. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I do writing.

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