In a season where P.K. Subban has been accused of being too bold for his own good, it was a very contrite player who met with the media on Friday after being made a healthy scratch Thursday night.
"You want to play well every game, but the reality of it is that you won't," Subban told reporters following practice on Friday. "Now I know the consequences."
The consequences for Subban was a seat in the press box to watch his Montreal Canadiens' teammates put on a clinic against an undermanned New Jersey Devils squad. The Habs skated away with a 5-1 victory, while Subban said he learned a valuable lesson.
"If you want to play and stay in the lineup, you have to make sure you're doing your job out there," said Subban.
The brash rookie, who started off the season strongly, has faded in recent weeks. While he has nine points in 25 games this season, he has only one assist in his last seven games.
"When you do an evaluation, his best performance was in the first 10 games of the season," said head coach Jacques Martin.
While his play on the ice has not kept Subban in the headlines, his perceived attitude towards opponents has. Most notably the 21-year old drew the ire of Philadelphia Flyers' captain Mike Richards for what Richards deemed 'trash talk' and 'being cocky' before earning respect in the league.
The comments by Richards are just one example of how every movement that Subban makes has been scrutinized. But he said that he understands that playing in Montreal means that everything that he does will be analyzed by the media.
"When I play well it seems to get blown up pretty big, and when I don't play so well I like to make sure that it's the same way," he explained.
For a rookie on a high-pressure team with legitimate championship aspirations, Subban already brings a great deal of publicity. And for this reason, he thought it was odd that there were so many reporters asking him about being scratched for a mid-season game against a struggling team.
"You want to play," he said. "But it's not really about me, it's about the team. The team won (on Thursday) and that's really what we should be talking about, but I know you guys aren't going to let me talk about that."
Subban added that being sat against the Devils is all part of the learning process in his first full season in the NHL.
"The coaching staff comes together and they put together the lineup everyday," he continued. "If I can't help the team win then I don't deserve to be in the lineup."
Subban also said that he did not think that being made a scratch was that big of a deal and that he would learn from the experience.
"I wouldn't be the first rookie to be a healthy scratch in his first year."
While Martin would not tip his hand and say whether Subban would be in the lineup Saturday when the Canadiens host the San Jose Sharks, he said that he would be ready if he got the call.
"All the distractions don't matter to me," he said. "I know what I can do on the ice and I know what I have to do to get the job done, I just have to go and do it. All I need is the opportunity to do it."