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Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Mike Richards rips P.K. Subban in interview

By Pierre LeBrun

MONTREAL -- Circle Habs-Flyers next Monday night on your must-watch TV list. Should be a spicy one.

Long after the rest of the media had left the visitors room Tuesday night at the Bell Centre, radio reporter Norman Marshall of Metro Networks caught Mike Richards one on one, and the Flyers captain was in a foul mood following his team's 3-0 loss against Montreal. In particular, he hammered Habs rookie P.K. Subban in a clip that ran over and over again Wednesday morning on local radio station Team 990.

"He's a guy that's come in the league and hasn't earned respect," Richards told the radio station. "It's just frustrating to see a young guy like that come in here and so much as think that he's better than a lot of people. You have to earn respect in this league. It takes a lot. You can't just come in here as a rookie and play like that. It's not the way to get respect from other players around the league. Hopefully someone on their team addresses it, because, uh, I'm not saying I'm going to do it, but something might happen to him if he continues to be that cocky."

P.K. Subban
P.K. Subban made a name for himself during Montreal's surprising playoff run last season.

On Wednesday, Subban seemed perplexed when told of Richards' comments.

"I think that I'm confident, but I think that there's a lot of players that are confident in this league," Subban said. "I'm not the only person that's confident when I play the game. That's what you have to do. Maybe the fact I'm a young guy coming in, maybe people don't take well to that. As long as my teammates and the coaching staff are happy with what I'm doing, I'm going to continue to do that."

Subban's teammates were solidly behind him Wednesday.

"That's when P.K. plays well, when he's under people's skin and forces people into poor decisions trying to hit him," said Habs blueliner Hal Gill. "Then he can skate and wheel off and make plays. From what I've seen, that's what P.K. does well. I wouldn't expect him to change anything he does.

"You know, he's got a lot to learn about the game, but I think the way he plays, it is exciting and fun."

"I just go out there and play hard and respect the players," Subban said. "I don't go out there and try and hurt anybody. I just play the game."

Subban has an ebullient personality, and that may be what turns off other players. One reporter asked Subban on Wednesday if he thought he was being targeted because he was black.

"That's a crazy question, I don't think so, man," Subban said. "I don't think that's the case at all here. We're playing hockey out there. There's not any of that going on. Stuff is said on the ice, but nothing like that. I don't know where that's coming from."

The media scrum had come and gone Wednesday, and Subban was sitting at his stall, shaking his head. As I was walking away, he said: "I never expected to have a bounty on my head 20 games into my career."

Bob the goalie

Six weeks into the season and Sergei Bobrovsky isn't going away. At 11-3-1 with a 2.07 goals-against average and .932 save percentage, it's hard to think the Russian netminder isn't legit at this point.

"It's amazing," Flyers forward Danny Briere told ESPN.com. "We don't want to get ahead of ourselves, it's still early in the season, but he's been playing great. He's done everything that's been asked of him. He's quick and fast. I like what I've seen."

Briere remembers first seeing Bobrovsky this past summer at a skate with Flyers teammates before camp.

"At first I had no clue who that goalie was. Then we started taking penalty shots at the end of the practice. We couldn't score on him," Briere said with a laugh. "I was like, 'Who's this junior kid?' Then we realized who he was and that he'd likely start the season in Adirondack."

But then Michael Leighton got hurt and, well, the kid took charge.

"Bob's probably one of the most professional people I've ever worked with," said Flyers coach Peter Laviolette. "The way he prepares himself, he's very businesslike. For a young kid to come in, in his first year, to watch his routine and how he goes about his daily [routine], how he trains, how he eats, how he stretches and how he focuses. ... He's a terrific kid. It's really a good story."

I asked Laviolette what plan he had in mind once Leighton returns, creating a logjam in goal with Brian Boucher.

"I don't have one right now," the Flyers coach said with a smile. "We go slow here. One day at a time."

The Hearst boy

Flyers leading scorer Claude Giroux (21 points) was called the best player on the team this season by Briere. Laviolette didn't know where to start when asked to describe the Hearst, Ontario, native in terms of his qualities.

"It's hard really just to go with one quality," said Laviolette. "He's a terrific penalty-killer. He's one of the best playmakers in the league, but killing penalties, he does a terrific job. Defensively, he can play against the other team's best offensive players, so it's hard to just give one quality about him. I think he's becoming an elite player in this league."