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Why is P.K. riding the pine? Add to ...

Well, here we are again, having to make excuses for our clear incompetence.

Yes, today's French Immersion installment comes to you later than the crisp morning delivery you've come to expect, humble apologies.

That said, French Immersion has never shied from blaming our shortcomings on others, and we're not about to stop now.

Today the Big Wheel of Blame has stopped on: Montreal's notoriously work-shy blue collar workers, for whom clearing snow is apparently too much of an imposition.

So it is that the vast armies of working stiffs at FI straggled in even later than the usual crack of 10 a.m.

There is, however a silver lining.

Rather than ranting on bafflingly about some irrelevant subject, we propose to rant on bafflingly about a genuine news event: P.K. Subban, the best 21-year-old defenceman on this or any other planet, is being left aside for the third game in a row.

One game on the pines? Sending a message. Two? Making sure it was understood. But three? That's creating a story where there was none.

Sure, Subban committed a howler that allowed the Edmonton Oilers to tie a game they had no right being involved in. But on the overtime goal - for which the commentariat has also fingered our guy - Mike Cammalleri was free not to bobble the puck that Subban put on his stick.

Subban, being a rookie, will be prone to mistakes. That he's flamboyant and drives opponents mental draws greater attention to him, and thus magnifies the boo-boos.

But. But, but, but.

Seems to us there's no rational explanation for keeping the team's most talented defenceman out of the lineup, other than bloody-mindedness on the part of a certain coach.

Yes, Subban pulled a similar stunt to the slide!-DiMaggio-slide! maneuver he did against the Oil in last year's playoffs, and so is given to rash decisions.

Yes, he's an out-sized character and a chatterbox.

Yes, Yannick Weber has acquitted himself quite reasonably in his place.

Although it's the considered opinion of the hockey experts at FI that the Swiss's defensive zone skills are somewhat rough-hewn and he remains incapable of winning one-on-one battles along the boards with anyone over six-foot-one.

So somehow, it doesn't make a lot of sense that Subban would sit for a prolonged period - and the view from here is the coaches are losing their window of opportunity to get him back into the lineup.

As for irrational explanations, well, we do make something of a specialty here at FI World Headquarters of wild conjecture.

Could it be there is a dressing room issue, and that some of the veterans in the room have been rubbed the wrong way by Subban in the way he has other players in the league?

Is Jacques Martin incapable of relating to players under the age of 23?

And what if the Habs win tonight against Ottawa, does Subban continue to sit? Until they lose? Really?

Not that Martin was especially interested in that kind of talk on Tuesday morning after his team's skate.

"I'm busy enough preparing for tonight's game without thinking about what's going to happen in the future," Martin told The Team 990's Andie Bennett.

It's worth pointing out that Weber, who had a strong start in the minors before his call-up on Nov. 18, sat for four straight games after two games at forward, where his play was best described as 'meh'.

And it's true Weber has two assists in his last two games.

But with Andrei Markov out, no other defenceman in the Habs lineup can bring the mix of offense and defence that Subban, a much larger body and a better stickhandler than Weber, can.

So how much longer is Jacques willing to slice off chunks of his regal nose to spite his face?

Seems to us the Solomonic solution to all this is to include both Weber and Subban in the lineup, but that would likely mean splitting up Hal Gill and Josh Gorges, and sitting Alex Picard, who leads Montreal defencemen with a plus-9.

They could also send Subban back to Hamilton for more finishing and polish.

But that would be resorting to the truly irrational.

 

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