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Kubina returns to the scene of success

by Dan Rosen /
Pavel Kubina is going back to the place where he had his greatest triumph as a hockey player. The 6-foot-4, 250-pound veteran blueliner signed a two-year contract Friday to return to Tampa Bay, where he won a Stanley Cup in 2004.

Kubina was drafted by the Lightning in 1996 and played in Tampa from 1998-2006. He left after the '05-06 season for Toronto, where he was a Maple Leaf for three seasons before shipping off to Atlanta for one. He had 38 points and was an even in the plus-minus department over 76 games for the Thrashers.

"He is a big, physical defenseman who will play the point on the power play," Lightning GM Steve Yzerman said. "He was well-liked by his teammates during his previous time here in Tampa Bay and we're happy to welcome him back. I know Pavel had other options and I would like to thank him for deciding to rejoin us."

Kubina was one of the more underrated of the several quality defensemen on the market. He has played in 822 NHL games and has 348 points, but he's also a career minus-102. He played in 531 games with the Lightning and produced 209 points. He had two 40-point seasons in Toronto.

"I talked to Steve (Thursday) and I was very impressed with the direction he's going in with the team," Kubina said. "I always wanted to come home. Other than Czech, Tampa Bay is my second home. I still have my house there and even though I had other offers on the table, I couldn't pass this up. I'm looking forward to playing with Vinny (Lecavalier) and Marty (St. Louis) again as well as with the younger guys like (Steven) Stamkos and (Victor) Hedman." 

Yzerman made news Thursday when he re-signed St. Louis to a four-year contract and inked goalie Dan Ellis for two years. In Kubina, Yzerman bolstered a defense that lost Andrej Meszaros to Philadelphia and Kurtis Foster to Edmonton, but returns the developing Hedman and Mattias Ohlund plus Matt Walker.

The hope is that Kubina can replace Foster's production.

Foster, who has a powerful right-handed shot from the point, had 42 points this past season, including 26 on the power play. Kubina is also a right-handed shooter who can play the power play. He had 2 goals and 8 assists with the man-advantage for Atlanta after leading all Toronto defenseman with 22 power-play points in 2008-09.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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