Veteran defenseman Pavel Kubina left the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday the same way he came in.
With a display of class for himself, and nothing but high praise for the organization.
Kubina met with reporters on Sunday afternoon for the final time before packing his things and hopping on a plane Monday morning to Philadelphia, where he will finish out the remainder of the 2011-12 season after being traded to the Flyers for a second- and fourth-round pick, as well as prospect Jon Kalinski.
The moment proved to be one that was bittersweet for Kubina, who at times became emotional when talking about how much he loved the Tampa Bay community, the Lightning organization, the fans, and his teammates, including many of whom he referred to as “friends for life.”
“It’s hard to leave,” Kubina said. “This team is always going to belong to my heart.”
Now, he looks forward to joining the Flyers and helping the club become a Stanley Cup contender.
A seventh-round selection of the Lightning at the 1996 NHL Entry Draft, Kubina came of age as a young player in the franchise’s infant stages, only to help it grow and eventually blossom into a Stanley Cup Champion during the 2003-04 season.
That Kubina spent the better part of 10 NHL seasons with the Bolts, over two separate stints, is what made the several days leading up to Sunday’s media session so difficult.
Kubina's departure proves bittersweet following 10 seperate NHL seasons with Tampa Bay, over two seperate stints.
The defenseman still owns a home in Pinellas County, which he told reporters he intends to keep, and accepted less money just to return to Tampa Bay as a free agent in July 2010, leaving better offers from other interested clubs behind.
“It’s a great group of guys here, and I’ve known some of them for over 10 years,” Kubina added. “This city and this team is very lucky to have that, and very lucky to have an owner like Mr. Vinik. You don’t see an owner like that much, and he’s unbelievable. I just can’t say enough good things about him.”
Kubina, who had a limited no-trade clause in his contract, was asked to submit a list of five teams to which he’d be willing to be dealt to General Manager Steve Yzerman. The list never came, and when Yzerman informed Kubina about the Flyers’ offer, the defenseman took the deal, believing “it was the right thing to do.”
Kubina’s own sentiments regarding his departure were also echoed by his now-former Lightning teammates, as well as head coach Guy Boucher.Steven Stamkos
said that Kubina “is a great player who will definitely be missed.”
The NHL’s leading goal scorer also said that he had no doubt Kubina would serve as an asset to his next club, no matter the destination.
Boucher, on the other hand, revealed a more personal sentiment that reflects the entire organization’s special bond with each of its players.
“These are people that we respect, people that have given us everything they’ve got,” Boucher said. “Hockey people say it’s a business, but I’ve never saw it that way. That’s not the way I coach, and that’s not me. I strongly believe it’s about relationships. We have strong relationships with these individuals.”