A Family Affair
The Subban brothers are ready to take over the NHL — with grit, determination and a whole lot of style.
words by Yang-Yi Goh
Photography: Shayne Laverdière
P.K. Subban is smiling.
If you’re a hockey fan, this likely isn’t surprising news: on the ice, the Montreal Canadiens defenseman regularly flashes his pearlescent, toothpaste-ad-worthy teeth. Fans of the 26-year-old superstar see his in-game grins as charming—a joyful expression of his passion for the sport. But for his many detractors, they’re just another insufferable sign of Subban’s cocksure insolence.
Tonight, though, there’s no question as to what’s fueling P.K.’s dimples: pure familial love. It’s a warm evening in early September, and the Toronto native is standing on the crowded patio of an upscale Yorkville eatery. He’s surrounded by his entire immediate family: his parents, Karl and Maria; younger brothers Jordan and Malcolm, prospects for the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks, respectively; and sisters Nastassia and Natasha.
“It’s really nice for all of us to be together like this,” P.K. says, still beaming. “Most of the year, we’re all spread out and have to keep in touch through a massive group chat on this messaging app.”
The occasion for this rare get-together is the launch of Canadian clothier RW&CO.’s fall campaign, which features all four Subban men sporting slick, boardroom-ready suits. For the Montreal-based company, it was a no-brainer tapping their home team’s beloved all-star, and adding his father and brothers into the mix was a surefire way to bring out the very best of P.K.’s outsized personality.
“It was amazing,” P.K. recalls of the photo shoot. “It was so natural, so fun. You look at the pictures, and that really shows. It didn’t take a lot to get these photos done.”
For Karl, the Subban patriarch, watching all three of his sons goof off together in front of the camera was yet another high point of his long, winding journey in fatherhood.
“I’ve never seen my boys have so much fun as they did at that shoot,” he says. “When P.K. started out, he just wanted to be like those guys on TV playing hockey. We never thought we’d have a day like the photo shoot, we never thought we’d be here today [celebrating a fashion campaign], and we never thought he’d be playing for the Canadiens or be such an important member of his team.”
“It just shows how important it is to dream,” Karl continues, “because with the right actions, you never know what you’ll accomplish. That’s the approach we’ve taken with our children, and it seems to be working. It’s about building confidence and competence. It’s about practice, hard work, resiliency and determination.”
That belief system, ingrained from a young age, is what’s helped propel P.K. to the elite ranks of the NHL in just four full seasons. He won the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the league’s best defenceman in 2013, led the Habs to the Eastern Conference Finals in the 2014 playoffs, and was a member of Canada’s gold medal-winning squad at the Sochi Olympics. And if you ask him, he’s just getting started.
“I never thought I’d have an Olympic gold medal or the Norris Trophy this early in my career,” he says, “but there’s a lot left for me to accomplish. God willing, I think my best days are still ahead of me.”
Those best days will likely involve suiting up against his brothers, who are both looking to make a permanent leap from the minors this season. P.K. spent the summer training heavily with Jordan and Malcolm, and he’s eager to see their careers flourish.
“Facing off against my brothers is going to be great,” he says, “and who knows? Maybe one day I’ll get the chance to play alongside one or two of them. I just try to remind them to have fun with it all. As long as you’re working hard, remember to enjoy your youth and never take anything for granted.”
The only question left, then, is this: Do the Subbans think their new campaign might open the door to becoming full-time models?
“A friend of mine just told me, ‘Stick to your day job,’” Karl says with a wink. “But I loved the experience. And don’t we look great in those photos? You know, actually, maybe I could give it a go.”
P.K. chuckles and shows off that toothy grin again. “I like the sound of that,” he says, motioning to his father. “Because if he can have a modeling career, then I definitely will, right?”