There weren’t many players who had the gut to mess with Chris Pronger. The legendary defenseman was perhaps the dirtiest player of his generation and was never afraid to hand out a punch and even take one if necessary.
But when P.K. Subban got into the NHL, he didn’t precisely follow the norm. The defender, now with the New Jersey Devils, played for the Montreal Canadiens at the start of his career. In his first-ever NHL game, he came up against the Philadelphia Flyers and Chris Pronger. And Subbans’ debut game ended with a scrum.
” He’s got one guy in one hand and one guy in another,” Subban says. “I come right in the middle, grab him and say, ‘Let him go, let him go.’ And he didn’t say anything. I say, ‘I’m not scared of you.’ He says, ‘God, your breath stinks. Can you get out of here?’ “, Subban told the Sports Illustrated.
The next day, the teams played each other again, and Subban did something that took courage.
” The puck gets rimmed out of the zone on a power play, and I’m in front of the Philly bench. I stop just before the red line, getting ready to rim it back around after our forwards tag up. As I’m winding up, I look over, and the player coming out of the [penalty] box is Pronger. All I see coming over my shoulder is orange. He’s coming to kill me. “
” So I follow through with my shot, and as I recoil, I kind of duck down over my right shoulder and slip out of a check as he starts to throw it. He trips over my back leg and falls into the boards face-first. As I’m backing away, I see [Flyers wing] Ian Laperrière, and he’s got a funny face, like, Oh, my God. And I’m laughing, and Pronger’s yelling, ‘You bailed! You bailed!’ If you can believe, the words out of my mouth were ‘Suck it, Prongs.’ “