Subban's mysterious silence raises questions

by
Dave Sandford / National Hockey League / Getty

A familiar voice has been noticeably absent from the Stanley Cup Final over the last few days, and it's a trend that's gone from strange to problematic.

P.K. Subban wasn't made available to reporters for a third straight day Sunday, hours before his Nashville Predators will attempt to extend their season in Game 6 against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Members of the assembled media refused to leave Subban's stall, and the NHL intervened on their behalf but was denied by the team, according to Yahoo Sports' Greg Wyshynski.

It's unusual, to say the least, for the always forthright Predators superstar to go this long without talking, and particularly odd for him to be unavailable on the day of the biggest game in Predators history.

The whole situation raises several questions:

Was he muzzled?

It's unclear whether the Predators are ordering Subban not to speak, but given how media-savvy the ever-affable defenseman typically is, and especially how press-friendly he was at the start of the series, it's weird, particularly at this juncture of the Cup Final.

If Nashville's public relations staff is intentionally hiding him, that's doing a disservice to their fans and supporters of hockey everywhere. If it's his own decision, it would be a truly surprising one for a player who's normally one of the most accommodating players in the league.

Is this related to anything he's said or done?

Subban has certainly been a lightning rod for controversy throughout this series. He guaranteed the Predators would win Game 3, then doubled down on it, but the eventual fallout from that contest might be more to blame for his mysterious media abstinence.

It's possible the Predators might not have been thrilled about Subban's "Listerine" joke that Sidney Crosby treated as an honest accusation by claiming the Predators blue-liner "made that up" (of course he did).

If Nashville was at all unnerved by Subban "lying" about what Crosby said to him, the Predators organization is showing they - like the Penguins captain himself - haven't been in the mood to laugh about it.

Is this actually allowed?

Here's the important thing about this whole mess: It's probably against the rules.

The Predators violated terms agreed upon by the NHL and the Professional Hockey Writers Association, according to The Buffalo News' Mike Harrington.

Those rules stipulate that players who skate on game days are supposed to be made available to talk, and so the PHWA was expected to file a grievance to the league about Subban's absence, according to Wyshynski.

Some fans might say they couldn't care less about the media's problems, but there are guidelines in place to prevent this sort of thing from happening for a reason.

Players don't talk much during the playoffs beyond specifically scheduled times as it is, but not hearing from the Predators' brightest star on the day of the biggest game of his career and the biggest game in the history of the franchise isn't just a media problem. It should be frustrating for everyone.