Thursday, June 17, 2010

Focus on a Thrasher: Pavel Kubina

Focus on a Thrasher is a little feature I came up with last season to pass the time and use some pictures. The only rule for this is that they had to be a Thrasher at the end of the season. Unfortunately, I'm sure some of the guys who finished last season as a Thrasher will be else where at the beginning of this season.

This summer's first focus is on the big Dman, Pavel Kubina.

Pavel was born on April 15, 1977 in Čeladná, Czechoslovakia.

Kubina started his professional career in 1993 with HC Vitkovice of the Czech Extraliga. He played there for four seasons. In 1996, while stil playing with HC Vitkovice, Pavel was drafted in the 7th round, 170th over all, by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

After being drafted by the Lighting, Pavel spent most of the 1996-97 season in North America playing for the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL. The 1996-97 season was a good one for Pavel. He put up career highs, scoring 44 points (12 goals 32 assists).

Though he did spend most of the 1997-98 season with the Adirondack Red Wings of the AHL, Pavel did get his first taste of NHL action playing 10 games with the Tamp Bay Lighting. Pavel made his NHL debut on March 14, 1998 against Chicago scoring his first NHL point through an assist. Later that season he got a nice little early birthday present when he scored his first NHL goal against Ottawa on April 13.

Although Pavel played 6 games for the IHL's Cleveland Lumberjacks, the 1998-99 season was his first full season in the NHL. During his rookie year, he recorded 21 points (9g, 12a) in 68 games with Tampa Bay. He led NHL rookies in average ice time (22:47) and was third in hits (156) . He was tied for fifth on the team in goals and shots (128) and ranked sixth in points.

By the 2003-04 season Pavel was a valuable member of the Lightning playing an average of 75 games per season. In 2004, Pavel helped take the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Stanley Cup! On the way to the Cup, the Lightning clawed their way through the New York Islanders, the Montreal Canadiens, the Philadephia Flyers and finally defeated the Calgary Flames to claim their prize! Pavel scored 4 assists in the Stanley Cup Finals.

So what did Pavel do on his day with the cup? He took it home to the village he grew up in, Janovice, of course. He made the rounds to some children's hospitals. He went to a mall and signed autographs. He took it to the old rink where he played as a child. He even took it to his childhood Catholic Church where the priest conducted a special ceremony for Pavel. And after all of that good and wholesome stuff...he took it out clubbing!

During the dreaded 2004-05 lock out, Pavel returned to the Czech Republic and played for HC Vitkovice again.

Once the lock out was over, Pavel returned to Tampa for the 2005-06 season playing in 76 games and scoring 38 points.

In 2006, Pavel signed a deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He spent 4 years in Toronto. In 2007 Pavel became the first Toronto defenseman to score game-winning goals in consecutive games on consecutive days.

On October 27, 2007, Pavel appeared in his 600th NHL game against the Florida Panthers. He scored 2 points in the game.

In the summer 0f 2009, Pavel was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers in a deal with Tim Stapleton. In return, we sent them Garnet Exelby and my beloved Colin Stuart. In his season with the Thrashers, Pavel played in 66 games, scoring 38 points.

Pavel has represented his country in international play, too. Pavel has a bronze medal from the Olympics in Turin. He also represented his country in the 2010 Olympics.

One of my favorite things about Pavel is his bright ass yellow hummer. You always know when he is at practice! Well, unless his wife drops him off. Pavel and his wife Andrea have one daughter, Tereza, born in 2006. He had this to say about being a daddy:

She kept me alive last season. She is the best thing that ever happened to me.

Well besides seeing his sweet ride at practice, fans would love to see him re-sign this summer.



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