Braydon Coburn made his first appearance on the Amalie Arena ice sporting a Tampa Bay Lightning practice jersey and a black and orange hockey stick that will need a color adjustment to erase any trace of his Philadelphia Flyer past.
The newly-acquired defenseman flew to Tampa last night and joined in for the Lightning’s morning skate ahead of tonight’s fifth and final meeting with the Buffalo Sabres, pairing with Jason Garrison along the Bolts’ blue line.
“I feel very fortunate to be traded to a team like Tampa,” Coburn said. “They’re going to the playoffs, and I’m hoping to do whatever I can to help out here.”
Coburn said he’s very familiar with Garrison from their time together on Team Canada during last year’s IIHF World Championships in Belarus, though the two didn’t partner together. Coburn skated with Tyler Myers. Garrison was with his former Vancouver teammate Kevin Bieksa.
“(Garrison’s) a great player,” Coburn said. “He can shoot the puck. He’s real steady. I can already tell he talks a lot out there, so that’ll make my job a lot easier.”
In the Lightning locker room, Coburn occupies the stall next to fellow defenseman Matt Carle. Coburn and Carle played together for four seasons in Philadelphia (2008-12) and became close friends during that time.
“I don’t know, maybe it’s fate,” Coburn said when asked if he requested a locker next to Carle. “We used to sit by each other on the plane in Philly. Maybe he requested my presence or something, I don’t know.”
Carle, who has been traded twice in his career, was one of the first members of the Lightning to reach out to Coburn after Monday’s trade, partly because of his friendship with Coburn and partly because of his understanding what it’s like to be shipped to a new team.
“When you’ve been through a couple trades, it’s tough,” Carle said. “Your life really just gets flipped upside down and as a guy who’s familiar, he’s familiar with me I guess, I just wanted to kind of be a helping hand and let him know that anything he needed while he’s down here, I’ll be here for him.”
COOPER TALKS ABOUT TRADE
Lightning head coach Jon Cooper lamented losing forward Brett Connolly and defenseman Radko Gudas during Monday’s trade deadline deals, calling both “great guys for our organization” and “great people.”
But, Cooper said to improve the team and give the Lightning a better chance to make a run at the Stanley Cup, a move had to be made.
“When you trade for a top four defenseman in this league, you have to give something up,” he said. “We had to give up pieces from our puzzle that have brought us to where we are today to move ahead and I guess be better now and in the future. (Coburn) is a big man that can skate. He can make that first pass. He’s a veteran D in the league.”
Cooper watched Coburn in his final game as a Flyer against the New York Rangers on Saturday and came away impressed with his ability to match up against one of the best scoring teams in the NHL.
“He played the Rangers the other night, who, to me are a top five team in this league, and he was playing against the best lines. He was neutralizing them. He did everything you want in that strong defending defenseman.”
The fact Coburn is signed through the end of next season was a major reason the Bolts targeted the 6-foot-5, 220 pound native of Shaunavon, Saskatchewan.
“We weren’t looking for rentals, we were looking for somebody that was going to help us not only for this year but in the future,” Cooper said. “…We didn’t want to lose somebody in the summer.”
Matt Carle wore a red, no-contact jersey again at today’s morning skate but hopes to return to a normal practice jersey, perhaps as early as tomorrow.
“Tomorrow, I think, will be a big day,” he said. “…Have to talk to the medical staff here after the skate this morning and go from there.”
Cooper said he hopes to have Carle back in a week or two, further bolstering the Bolts’ blue line beyond just the addition of Coburn.
“Matt Carle at some point is going to come back here…All of a sudden now, we’ve just gotten that much deeper on D,” Cooper said. “Ask any GM in the league, you can’t have enough defensemen.”
The fact the Lightning have depth in defense means they don’t have to rely on its top pair or its top two defensive groups to play the majority of minutes.
“We’re not going to be having those guys playing 25, 30 minutes a night,” Carle said “I think when it comes to April, May, hopefully June, that’s going to bode well for us to be able to be rested and be playing with lots of energy. We play a pretty up tempo game, and all of us can get up in the play and chip in offensively.”