For the first two and a half years of the Vegas Golden Knights’ existence, Malcolm Subban was a backup to Marc-Andre Fleury, with many ups and downs and a not-so-good starting percentage of .397. Vegas was looking to bolster its tandem and traded Chicago Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner in February 2020. Sabban came back the other way and was considered by many to be a coin flip. For Subban, this exchange meant he could make a new first impression.
But Sabban waited, and waited again. Corey Crawford had to play in the game against the Ducks at 3rd. Mars needs medical treatment. Sabban replaced him, but 70 seconds later he was back on the bench. On the 12th. March, the season was then interrupted because of COWID-19. When the Blackhawks returned to action in the postseason, Crawford played all 544 minutes in nine games.
During the offseason, the Blackhawks said goodbye to Crawford. They too were looking for a fresh start, leaving Subban (27), Collin Delia (26) and Kevin Lankinen (25) to compete for the goalkeeper positions. Subban got the starting job to open the season – and it was a disaster. In the lost game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, he scored five goals (including three in the first period). Lankinen soon took over the role of booster, while Subban again became the reserve.
While many thought of Subban, he stuck his head in the sand and worked. Since Subban opened the game, he has a 4-2-1 record with a .918 save percentage and one shutout. The surprisingly good Blackhawks are in playoff position, and people in the organization insist that the goalie situation is far from resolved.
The sub-banker is used to living in the shadows of the spotlight. His older brother, P.K., is one of the most recognizable faces in the NHL. But Malcolm has his own identity and his own way in hockey. Here’s more information on Malcolm Sabban, in his own words.
When the trade…
I’ve never been traded. I didn’t know that was going to happen. My mom was in Vegas now, but that was a blessing because I had to leave that night and I still had a lot of stuff to pack up in my apartment. Of course, when things calmed down, I knew I was getting into a great organization. They’ve won three Stanley Cups in the last decade. They were focused on winning, and I hoped I could be a part of the process to get them back on top.
Having to wait for his first start in Chicago
At least I wanted to get rid of the first one. When you join a new team, you want to show everyone what you can do and what you can bring. So here’s the disappointment. But Corey [Crawford] played well, and the team was on a roll when I came in. … This, of course, made it easier to watch and learn from Cory. He’s a great goalie.
This year I was just happy to have my first start. It took us a while to get started at home. Needless to say, I was a little nervous. Although there are no fans, I was still a little nervous to make my first start at the United Center. The second went a little better, then I got my first win.
In transition from his forgettable 2021 opening night,…
It was a different program, no shows or anything. I think we were all a bit nervous playing against the cup winners. When we calmed down and had both feet on the ground, we left. I hope we can continue to do that.
In His Head This Season….
My job is to give my team a chance to win every time I’m on the ice. There have been games where I didn’t start well or maybe missed a goal or two, and our team came back, got stronger and won games. That’s the sign of a good team. We did very well with the challenges we had. It is clear that there will be more on the last straight, teams are starting to strengthen, teams behind us are trying to catch up.
I like to go when I can, whether I play three times in a row or once every three weeks. Because ultimately, it’s about creating a culture of winning and getting back to the top. Every time you’re there, you want to give your team a chance to win. And if you’re not there, you want to give your other teammates the confidence to get the job done.
Subban and Kevin Lankinen have been the Blackhawks’ consistent goalies this season. Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images
About his hockey roots….
My dad took me ice skating when I was two. Then I started playing when I was three years old, in a local league. I grew up in Toronto, Ontario, on the west side. I grew up with my brothers, my dad was my coach. I was a defender, like my brothers, from the age of four, five, and played on the bar until I was eleven. When I was 11-12 years old, my father stopped training me. I’ve always wanted to play goalie and he finally let me.
I just had a passion for the cause, which I loved. When we played in the backyard, I always went to the net, even if I was a defender. In the hallways, I always tried to make contact somehow.
When I was a kid, when P.K.’s little brother…..
It was cool because it opened the way for me. I don’t know if I was an airhead or what, but I really didn’t know anything about the Ontario Hockey League, the junior leagues or the road to the NHL. I just knew I wanted to play in the NHL, and that was already our dream.
I remember when P.K. was drafted into the OHL, I was a kid, and I thought: What? Was he not selected by the NHL? Is it bad?
Then I discovered the existence of the OHL, and after I discovered it, we started looking at it in Belleville [Ontario]. I just fell in love with the team, the organization and the OHL. I couldn’t wait for the next game. If it was a school night, like sometimes on Wednesdays when they played, my parents wouldn’t take us. And I was the most depressed kid.
Then I’ll have to play for Belleville …. I’m used to being called his little brother. Two guys even called me PK. I didn’t care, I just thought it was funny. I’m so used to the city and I’m so glad I could play there.
About Their Hockey Idols….
I learned a lot from NHL goalies when I was a kid. The two main ones I looked at when I started playing were [Henrik] Lundqvist and [Marc-Andre] Fleury. Those are the guys I was really trying to keep up with in my game.
Yes, it was very emotional when [Marc-Andre and I] became teammates. I will never forget how I walked into the room after my first workout. He sat in his cubicle and I just watched him. I can’t believe I’m playing with this guy.
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After his hobbies…
I’ve been learning to play guitar for the last few years and I’ve gotten pretty good at it. I played the piano as a child.
I like doing a lot of things, I like mountain biking a lot. I found a few trails about 30 minutes outside of Chicago, then took the Lakeshore Trail and mountain biked a few times. I usually do this at home in the summer.
On bonding with teammates in this unusual season …
It was really hard. We cherish the time we can spend together because we can’t get together like we usually do. Of course winning also helps, the feeling of belonging, the good mood after the matches.
I take my Xbox with me when I travel. Some of the other guys are taking their Xbox as well. Connor Murphy just bought one of those portable guitars that you can take on trips. So I want to have one too, so I can keep training on the go.
About how he wants to be known
I would like to be recognized as a good person. A pretty simple guy, but I like to have fun, I like to joke around with the guys.
I’m competitive. I don’t like to lose. I don’t like to lose. I like talking to the guys, encouraging everyone.
I’m competitive, Sabban said. I don’t like to lose. AP Photo/Nam I. Ha.
The easiest teammate to tweet….
Andrew Shaw. You can make it disappear very easily. I really enjoy tweeting Shawsie, it’s really fun to tweet him. I love playing table tennis against him, but he’s really good at table tennis. At one point we were collecting – we were playing, but we weren’t really keeping score – so he wasn’t trying very hard, but I hit him and held him over my head. And yet. I know I can’t beat him in a really fair game, so I always just say that once. He’s so excited about it too. If you ask him how I beat him at ping-pong, he’ll freak out.
on the Blackhawks culture…
The work we’ve put in, the way we’ve come together since the start of the season, I don’t think it’s a surprise to see where we are. First, you start with Kaner [Patrick Kane] and Dunchey [Duncan Keith]. They’ve already won, they know what’s important, and it’s contagious – the way they act, the work they put in, their dedication.
It’s an incredible core of young people, we’re all very close. But I feel like the veterans have done a good job of taking the younger guys in and making them feel like they are suddenly part of the team, which gives them confidence. You can see on the ice that the kids are playing with a lot of confidence now.
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