BOSTON - He showed up just short of a year ago with just the suit on his back, a lap top and -- as it would turn out -- a cloak of shimmering brashness that would grate on opponents.
Maybe some teammates, at times, too.
P.K. Subban was a rookie with a reputation that preceeded him after a strong training camp, like the way lightning lights up the sky before you hear the rumble, when he joined the Montreal Canadiens from the AHL in late April for the last couple of games for their opening-round upset of the Washington Capitals.
He had to go to Saks Fifth Avenue in Pittsburgh with then-teammate Maxim Lapierre to get clothes for the Habs' unlikely trip into the second round (the Habs went straight from Washington to Pittsburgh after eliminating the Caps in seven games, so Subban never got home).
"It was pretty funny. I had to go out and buy underwear. Lappy brought me to the most expensive store in Pittsburgh," Subban said.
Now, Subban wears his status well as one of the game's rising stars and most engaging personalities, though it was clear Wednesday the Canadiens are mindful of managing his burgeoning persona and the possibility of him taking centre stage in this series.
After defence partner Hal Gill concluded his media scrum next to Subban's stall, he reminded a member of the Canadiens media relations staff of how long Subban had been talking.
There was a shouted reminder for Subban to wind it up.
Five minutes later, Gill bellowed from the back room: "P.K., let's GO!"
Subban apologized and scurried off.
Gill is making sure Subban does it right, on and off the ice.
Concluding his first full season in the NHL, the 21-year-old Subban has already become a crowd favourite with "P.K." chants regularly raining down in the Bell Centre. His name has also been on the lips of opponents, like Philadelphia Flyers captain Mike Richards, who sneered earlier this season that Subban should know his place after the two tangled, and critics like Hockey Night in Canada's Don Cherry.
There has been a quick animosity between Subban and the Boston Bruins, the Canadiens' first-round opponent in a series that gets under way Thursday night. The Subban-Gill matchup -- the Habs' best, with Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges out with knee injuries -- will likely get a lot of face time with hulking Bruins star Milan Lucic.
"I don't think it affects him at all, I think he actually enjoys it. P.K. doesn't really care about what anybody thinks, so I don't think it will affect him a whole lot," said Canadiens goaltender Carey Price.
The Lucic-Subban head-to-head showdown should be one of the best of the opening round.
"He's a big guy and that's a big line," said Subban. "It's one of the best lines in the NHL and they're going to be hard to contain. They are one of those lines where you can't really engage them fully, you have to play well positionally. It's going to be tough, it's going to be a challenge, not just for me and Hal, but for all five guys on the ice."
Subban, simply put, has the potential to steal the show.
Folks should leave him be and let him play his game.
"Everybody enjoys every game meaning so much and every shift meaning so much," said Subban. "Last year I just kind of came up and got thrown into it. I enjoyed the time here and winning the first two rounds. This year I see now how hard it is to get that Cup. We did a lot of great things last year, but it wasn't enough.
"This year it's a different team, it's a new situation and we want to write our own story."
No matter what happens, bet he'll write it large.