COMETS' DEFENSEMAN AMONGST STARS AT AHL CLASSICJan 19, 2017
The AHL is throwing a party later this month in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and Utica Comets' defenseman Jordan Subban scored an invitation.
It's easy to see how Subban has evolved as a player.
Now in his second season with the Comets, the Toronto area native is making strides in his game. In 67 games last season as a rookie, Subban collected 36 points (11 goals, 25 assists). Labeled by many following his game as an offensive defenseman, 39 games into this season Subban's game is maturing.
The points continue to come and are on track to surpass last season's totals. So far, 22 points (nine goals, 13 assists) are registered. Six of the goals have come on the power play. His risk on the blue line, and beyond, has come with a reward of representing the Comets at the PPL Center for the All-Star Classic.
When the announcement came from the AHL on January 5 that Subban would be one of the 48 top prospects selected to the two-day showcase on January 29-30, a call was made back home to Rexdale, Ontario. "My parents," says Subban, of who he shared the news with first.
Coming from a family where hockey keeps his parents Karl and Maria Subban on the go, Jordan tells of a previous engagement that precludes them from going through the PPL turnstiles.
"When my brother (Nashville Predators' P.K. Subban) was selected to the NHL All-Star Game, my parents booked their flights right away for Los Angeles. I wasn't a shoe-in. There are a lot of guys that deserve to go (Allentown)".
Subban, who will be one of 37 first-time all-star selections to this season's squad, is a fan of the league's best get-together for a weekend of fun. Back when older brother P.K. represented the Hamilton Bulldogs in the 2010 AHL Classic, Jordan made the trip in support of the future Norris Trophy winner.
Watching All-Star gatherings on TV has also captured Subban's interest. "I watched last year. What went on with John Scott was cool," offers Subban of the forward being selected as the game's MVP.
Whereas Subban states he feels no pressure as the sole representative for Utica later this month in Allentown. He is direct when making it known, that first and foremost, his teammates are who made it possible for the honor.
Getting an opportunity to play with and against many of the AHL's most talented excites Subban. A.J. Greer of the San Antonio Rampage, another first-time All-Star selection, is one familiar face Subban looks forward to seeing. "I haven't seen (AJ) in a few years, so it will be good to get together."
The uncertainties of the Classic weekend, for now, have captured Subban's attention, too. Who will North Division coach Benoit Groulx play Subban with or where he may be slotted for the skills competition bring a smile to Subban's face. "I haven't decided yet," Subban said about what event he may take a crack at. "Once I find out what is available, then I'll make plans."
Participating in the AHL All-Star Classic will be the first official game of its kind for Subban. With AHL rosters determined by committees of coaches, Subban was selected to the OHL All-Stars third team during the 2014-15 season. This honor came as a result of OHL general managers doing the selecting. However, no actual game involving All-Stars is played.
There is one type of All-Star game that Subban skated in, as a 17-year-old while replacing Ryan Pulock, and that came four years back. In January 2013, Subban took part in the 18th annual Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game held at Metro Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Being coached by Don Cherry, Subban was one of the CHL's top 40 NHL draft eligible players showcased.
Making the trip to Allentown at the end of this moth is by no accident for Subban. Progress and poise sum up a powerful first half of the season for Utica's All-Star.
Written by Don Laible