Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Pavel Kubina has adjusted to stay productive

Pavel Kubina did not want to make too much of his 900th NHL game.

The defenseman called it a "little accomplishment" and noted that so many players had reached that plateau and beyond.

But reaching the mark while playing for the Lightning? That, he said, is a "great accomplishment."

"Great memories," said Kubina, who will play No. 900 Friday against the Panthers at the St. Pete Times Forum.

"This team drafted me. This team gave me a chance in the league, and I won a Stanley Cup. I had a chance to come back, and it meant so much to me."

Kubina's affection for the Lightning and the Tampa Bay area and how he relished his return this season after three with the Maple Leafs and one with the Thrashers is well-known.

Less obvious is the story of an older player who had to remake his game to remain viable in the league.

Kubina, who turns 34 on April 15, entered the NHL during the 1997-98 season, when defense was all about clutching, grabbing and interference. Now those are no-nos, which made the game much faster and meant defensemen had to adapt, even gain speed, or get out.

It has not been an easy transition for the 6-foot-4, 258-pound Czech, and even coach Lightning Guy Boucher noted Kubina's season has had ups and downs.

Making things tougher: Kubina has an offensive mind-set that had to be tempered, too.

"When he's trying to do too much offensively, it prevents him from being able to come back defensively," Boucher said. "Then he's flat-footed and late. But lately that hasn't been the case. Right now he's playing well."

Even so, Kubina has had his power-play time reduced, meaning a player with 106 career goals and 370 points has three goals and 22 points in 77 games this season, his lowest full-season output since 2002-03.

But he also is plus-1 and averaging 19:12 of ice time.

"Myself, I'm not worried about my points or goals," Kubina said. "If I can do my job defensively, we have a good chance to win games, so I'm not going to do something risky. I'm just going to worry about defense."

That means lots of off-ice weight work and doing on-ice sprints to increase his quickness and speed.

"It's a new NHL, and all these bigger guys who don't necessarily have great speed, they have to find a way to adjust," Boucher said. "So for him this year, it's been a year where he's realizing there's an adaptation he has to go through. He's looking good, so full credit to him."

Some things haven't changed.

"He's such a great guy," teammate Vinny Lecavalier said.

"And he likes playing," said Lightning founder Phil Esposito, who drafted Kubina 179th overall in 1996. "He still loves it, and guys like that always last."

In Kubina's case, he has lasted for 13 seasons and 900 games, 608 with Tampa Bay, with which he won the 2004 Stanley Cup.

"It just flew by," he said. "I appreciate it more now when I get older. I hope I still have a lot of games left in me."

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Pavel Kubina has adjusted to stay productive 04/06/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 6, 2011 10:54pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. FSU-Bama 'almost feels like a national championship game Week 1'


    The buzz is continuing to build for next Saturday's blockbuster showdown between No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Florida State.

  2. Tampa lawyer Fred Ridley to be new chairman of Augusta National, Masters' home (w/ video)


    AUGUSTA, Ga. — Fred Ridley first came to Augusta National to compete in the 1976 Masters as the U.S. Amateur champion, and he played the opening round in the traditional pairing with the defending champion, Jack Nicklaus.

  3. Rays send down Chase Whitley, Andrew Kittredge; add Chih-Wei Hu, activate Alex Cobb


    After having to cover more than five innings following a short start by Austin Pruitt, the Rays shuffled their bullpen following Wednesday's game, sending down RHPs Chase Whitley and Andrew Kittredge,

    The Kittredge move was expected, as he was summoned to add depth to the pen Wednesday in advance of RHP Alex …

  4. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred moves closer to wanting a decision on Rays stadium

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred called Wednesday for urgency from Tampa Bay area government leaders to prioritize and move quicker on plans for a new Rays stadium.

    MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred talks with reporters at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.
  5. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Blue Jays game

    The Heater

    The Austin Pruitt experiment might be over, or at least put on pause. After allowing six runs over seven innings to Seattle on Friday, the rookie didn't get through the fourth Wednesday, giving up five runs on four homers. His ERA for past six starts: 5.29.