P.K. Subban

Recently, NHL players and media members seem to have a particular knack for garnering negative attention for the way they discuss people who are different than them. ESPN’s P.K. Subban is the latest hockey-related media professional to find himself in hot water following a joke he made at the expense of singer Lizzo.

During ESPN’s studio coverage of Tuesday night’s Florida Panthers-Toronto Maple Leafs game, the 33-year-old hockey analyst decided to take a shot at the plus-sized singer while providing analysis.

While discussing the Leafs’ perceived lack of energy on the ice, co-host John Buccigross said that Toronto should “pack a lunch” in order to improve their play.

“Maybe they need to pack a Lizzo-sized lunch,” Subban replied. “They weren’t prepared, in my opinion.”

The comment sparked backlash on social media as Subban was accused of fat-shaming and being fatphobic.

Subban kinda-sorta addressed the moment afterward on Tuesday, though he did so by zeroing in on the slang definition of “packing a lunch” while side-stepped the Lizzo reference.

“Pack a lunch… lock in!” wrote Subban. “Be ready to compete! Bring work boots! Expect that they are going to try and outwork you in hard areas!”

It’s the latest in a series of gaffes involving NHL media and body-shaming commentary. In January, Boston Bruins announcer Jack Edwards apologized after body-shaming Tampa Bay Lightning player Pat Maroon. Earlier this month, Lightning radio analyst Phil Esposito chastised a fan by referring to her as “a fat woman who’s yapping like crazy here.”

Subban, who joined ESPN in 2022 on a three-year deal and debuted his ESPN+ show P.K.’s Places on Wednesday, has been no stranger to controversy in recent weeks. He caught flak in March for saying NHL players shouldn’t be made to wear uniforms or logos that show support for the LGBTQ+ community at a time when many players were opting out of doing so.

“We cannot push everyone to be an activist, we need to be very careful,” Subban told Reuters in March. “I feel people pick and choose what they want to talk about and I don’t like it when we put the onus on athletes to be activists.

So far, neither Subban nor ESPN has commented directly on Tuesday’s appearance.

[DaCaniac, P.K. Subban]

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to sean@thecomeback.com.