Like a Black & Gold colored bowling ball, Vladimir Sobotka rolled onto the TD Banknorth Garden scene and left a wake of opposition skaters in his wake.
"I think it was a very good year for me," said Sobotka when he cleaned out his Boston locker and packed for Providence and the AHL playoffs. "I learned something new about hockey [every day] and it was my first [pro] season and I am so glad I was able to play in the NHL."
Though he was somewhat of a surprise addition to the Bruins roster, Sobotka arrived in Boston as a rookie with a very strong hockey resume. That resume, coupled with a fine showing at Bruins Development Camp last summer and a very good training camp in September, was a predictor of his outstanding rookie campaign.
In the regular season, playing mostly on the fourth line, the young Czech center had 1-6-7 totals with 24 PIM in 48 games. He notched his first NHL goal Feb. 13 at Pittsburgh and the NHL B's were 6-0-0 when he recorded a point.
Incidentally, Sobotka also played 18 games in Providence with outstanding 10-10-20 AHL line.
Sobotka played his first career NHL playoff game on Apr. 12 in Montreal and scored his first career playoff points with goals in consecutive games Apr. 17 in Montreal in game five and Apr. 19 in Boston in game six to end up with 2-0-2 totals in six games.
In Europe, during the 2006-07 season, Sobotka set personal-bests in goals (seven), points (13) and penalty minutes (38) while playing for Slavia in the Czech league and suited up for the Czech Republic team in the World Junior Championships.
There, he scored four goals and four assists in six games and was named the Czech Republic’s second star at the end of the tournament by a coaches panel.
In 2005-06 he garnered a career-best nine assists and helped to lead Slavia to a playoff berth and during the ensuing postseason, Sobotka registered five points on two goals and three assists in 11 games.
That same season he also played for the Czech Republic in the WJC and notched two goals, two assists and 33 PIM in six games.
"I think the NHL was faster and has smarter players, so those were the biggest [adjustments]," he said quietly, before he gave the primary reason, at least in his eyes, why he was so able to successfully make the jump to the NHL.
"This was a very good group," he said while looking around the Bruins empty locker room. "I like everybody here.
"It was my first season here and everybody helped me to learn a lot.
"That was very good for me," he said.
And, of course, his best friend on the team, fellow Czech David Krejci
helped a lot.
"I think it was very good for both of us," said Sobotka. "We could speak Czech and for me and that was very good, because when I had a problem he helped me."
And is there a better example than Krejci, who dealt with a demotion earlier in the season to return with gusto?
"He had a very good season," said Sobotka. "Playing on the first line for the last 20 games."
Anyone who has met Vladimir Sobotka knows that he is not a young man who will rest on any laurels and you don't need to know Czech to get a clear view of that determination.
"I am going to Providence and I want to win the Calder Cup," said Sobotka. "[During the summer] they gave me some videotape [to study]...and that should be good.
"I want to play in the NHL next year, so I will do everything I can."
The young man looks forward to returning to the Hub in September and picking up where he and the Bruins left off in Montreal.
"I like Boston -- it's a nice city," he said. "It reminds me of Prague, so I felt at home."