NHL News

How P.K. Subban and Lindsey Vonn are making a splish-splash

They are perhaps the power couple in sports today. Lindsey Vonn, the winningest female ski racer of all time who turns as many heads on Hollywood red carpets as she does flying down mountainsides; and P.K. Subban, the flashy New Jersey Devils defenseman and 2013 Norris Trophy winner whose popularity rivals that of any player in the NHL.

Combined they have more than 5 million followers on their social media platforms, thanks in part to a willingness to bring fans along on the sports celebrity ride. During the coronavirus pandemic — and the accompanying stay-at-home orders — they have taken followers to a whole new level of intimate access.

It’s called “Tub Time,” and every night (except Sunday) at 8 ET Vonn and Subban climb into opposite ends of a bathtub in the Southern California home where they are staying, log onto one of their Instagram Live accounts and — with the bubbles flowing — laugh, dance, giggle and tease.

“Some people are like ‘Why are you in a tub? That’s too much.'” Vonn said. “But, hey, we have swimsuits on.”

“Yeah,” Subban said. “Why don’t they get in a tub and relax?”

If it sounds silly, ridiculous and a touch over-the-top, that’s the idea. The goofy Subban leaning back, arms folded behind his head, Harvard baseball cap hiding his need for a haircut, teasing Vonn about sharing embarrassing childhood pictures of the retired ski racer. Vonn chuckling, maybe even blushing a bit, before looking straight into the camera and deadpanning “That’s not going to happen.”

It’s as much an escape for them as it is for their followers.

“We are all going through this together,” Subban said of the coronavirus pandemic. “Our friend has been in the ICU for 16 days. He is slowly breathing more on his own and is waking up, so he looks to be finally turning a corner. Thank God. Everybody is being touched by this thing. This is just something different than the pain and frustration we are all feeling every day. Our happiness, our energy, it’s our release. We all need some happiness together.”

“I struggle at times,” said Vonn, 35, who retired in 2019. “It’s hard not to see my family, but this has helped so much. It’s something that I really look forward to. It’s the highlight of my day … aside from snuggling with P.K.”

The couple met at the 2017 ESPYS and began dating in 2018, after Vonn returned from the Pyeongchang Olympics. They became engaged last year and hope to wed later this year, depending on the aftermath of the coronavirus. For now, they’re staying put in Southern California, reading books, watching movies, doing partner workouts as Subban tries to stay in shape should the NHL season resume.

The idea of “Tub Time” started long before the spread of the coronavirus, when Subban, 30, began taking Epsom salts baths to deal with muscle soreness during training camp. He continued the baths during the season and began posting about them and sharing the experience with fans. He encouraged Vonn to join him to alleviate her soreness after her workouts. Now with the couple quarantined in Southern California, it’s the highlight of their nightly entertainment.

The show typically begins with music, and Subban dancing and strutting before dropping a bath bomb into the water. The couple takes questions from viewers, answering everything from how to handle being bullied to the toughest players Subban has ever played against. Remote guests have included chef Dan Churchill and Subban’s Devils teammate Connor Carrick.

Vonn had been traveling through Europe for two months working on a television project as the disease spread across the globe. She paid close attention to the news in Europe and wore gloves and a mask. She warned Subban and her family back home that she thought the virus would soon reach the States.

On March 12, shortly after Vonn returned to New Jersey, the NHL paused its season. The Devils had a game that night, and Subban was heading for his pregame nap when he got the call.

“We were told to stay home and that was it,” Subban said. “We didn’t have a chance to grab our stuff or anything. It was crazy. You’re moving in the fast lane and then just everything stopped.”

Subban stayed in New Jersey for a week and a half before players were allowed back to the Prudential Center to grab their gear. Vonn and Subban elected to head to California to ride out the stay-at-home orders. Although one of Vonn’s sisters lives five minutes away in California, Lindsey has purposely stayed away because of the time she spent in Europe and New Jersey.

“If I didn’t have P.K., I would be in a very dark hole right now,” Vonn said. “I don’t do well by myself. I probably would have broken my sister’s door down and demanded she let me in. So being able to lean on him and have him brighten my day every day … he’s got this smile and this crazy energy and he brings me with him.”

Added Subban: “I disagree. She has a strong personality and would be fine on her own. She gets the heavy load of carrying all my personality and energy and having to put up with all that. So it’s good to have a place where I can let loose and have fun and be myself and engage with people and not take all that out on Lindsey.”

Both athletes are known for their philanthropic work — Subban, who started his NHL career with the Canadiens, once donated $10 million to the Montreal Children’s Hospital — and that work continues through the pandemic. While working with Meals on Wheels to provide food for the elderly during this time, Vonn has donated ski goggles and other potential protective equipment to a local medical drive. She and Subban have also helped fund meals for the medical staff at the Montreal Children’s Hospital. And Subban is working on a program where he would read bedtime stories to children through YouTube. The idea is to give exhausted parents a break — and children something different to look forward to.

“I’m sure there are parents around the world just going nuts and running out of ideas for their kids,” Subban said. “We just want to make sure we can engage in the right spaces and help as many people as possible.”

Even if it means sharing their nightly bath routine with the world.

“Everybody has a bathtub,” Subban said. “So fill your tub with water, turn on your phone, join us and relax. This is ultimately about connecting with people in the most personal way possible. And I’m not sure it gets more personal than that.”

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