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Pavel Kubina 'thrilled to be back' with Tampa Bay Lightning

BRANDON — Pavel Kubina walked into the Ice Sports Forum locker room Tuesday and said something to teammate Vinny Lecavalier about being rusty.

It made sense. Kubina had just finished his first pre-training camp skate, which included a high-tempo pickup game.

But when asked what part of his game needs honing, the defenseman said, "No, no, I meant Vinny was a little rusty."

Typical Kubina, whose sense of humor is well-known and who couldn't keep the smile off his face while discussing his return to the Lightning after three seasons with the Maple Leafs and one with the Thrashers.

"I'm thrilled to be back," he said. "When I was driving in this morning, it felt so good. I never wanted to leave this team."

But Tampa Bay, which in 1996 drafted Kubina 176th overall, couldn't match the four-year, $20 million deal he got from Toronto before the 2006-07 season. The Lightning in July signed him to a two-year, $7.7 million free-agent contract that this season will pay $4.25 million.

"I'm back here to retire," said Kubina, 33, a member of Tampa Bay's 2003-04 Stanley Cup team. "I know I have a few years left in me, and if I stay healthy and everything is going to be okay, I can play for a long time."

Kubina, who kept his Pinellas County home, has been remarkably consistent the past three seasons, with 40, 40 and 38 points, respectively. And though his goals went from 14 in 2008-09 with the Leafs to six last season with Atlanta, his 32 assists were the second most of his career.

"I still feel good about myself, and I know I can prove it on the ice," Kubina said. "You get more experience and play a lot of games. You know what it takes to play in this league."

Older and wiser?

"Not really," Kubina said, and he smiled.

Under the radar: The hiring in August of Al Murray as head amateur scout got little attention but might be one of GM Steve Yzerman's most astute moves.

Murray, who replaced fired Jim Hammett, spent the past three seasons as head scout for Canada's under-18 national team.

"He's very current on all the top players around the world," Yzerman said. "A guy with tremendous experience and a real professional. I'm very excited."

Perrin ready: C Eric Perrin, in on a tryout, looked sharp in his first two days of skating. His backdoor pass that set up Paul Szczechura's easy goal was a crowd pleaser. "I feel great, mentally and physically," said Perrin, 34, who played for Tampa Bay in 2003-04 and 2006-07. "I'd regret it if I didn't get another shot. I have to give everything I have left."

On the air: Sun Sports will televise 65 games, all in high definition. Four others will be on Ch. 44, also in high def. Add six games on Versus and two held by NBC for possible broadcast, and 77 of Tampa Bay's 82 games could be televised. Go to tampabay.com/blogs/lightning to see the schedules.

Prospects tournament: James Wright and Marc Vachon each had a goal and an assist and Dustin Tokarski made 35 saves in a 3-1 victory over the Stars at Traverse City, Mich. Tampa Bay (2-1) faces the Hurricanes today in a third-place game.

Odds and ends: LW Ryan Malone said his left knee feels fine after a summer rest. He said the joint, chronically sore last season, did not require surgery. … Bolts Summer Bash 2 is at 6 tonight on Sun Sports.

Pavel Kubina 'thrilled to be back' with Tampa Bay Lightning 09/14/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 9:10am]

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