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Kuba a steadying force for Sens

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Filip Kuba's calm demeanour is appreciated by some of the younger members of the Ottawa Senators' blue-line brigade (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).

Filip Kuba brings a calm demeanour to just about everything he touches on the ice.

It’s pretty much what you’d expect from a nine-year National Hockey League veteran who lets his play do the talking for the Ottawa Senators at both ends of the rink. Whether he’s lugging the puck out of the defensive zone or manning the point on the power play, the 33-year-old Kuba believes in practising patience.

“It makes me see the plays better and to have more poise with the puck, too, and not just rush everything,” said Kuba of the calming presence he tries to provide from the Senators’ back end. “I can make better plays that way.”

Clearly, actions also speak louder than words in Kuba’s case.

“Filip doesn’t say a whole lot – he’s a pretty quiet guy,” observed Senators head coach Cory Clouston. “But he’s a smart player and when he does talk, he has some real good insight.”

All of which is appreciated by someone like 19-year-old rookie blueliner Erik Karlsson, who has often found himself paired with the 6-4, 229-pound Kuba in his inaugural NHL campaign.

“(Kuba) has a lot of experience and he’s a very calm guy on the ice and off the ice,” said Karlsson, a flashy Swede who soaks up every bit of veteran’s savvy he can gain from his partner. “ He’s been in the league for awhile and he’s a great guy.  So for me, it’s a great thing to play with him.”

Though Kuba’s early days in the league are long gone, they’re hardly forgotten. He still remembers leaning on a veteran’s experience himself back in 2000-01, his first full season in the NHL with the Minnesota Wild.

“When I started in Minnesota, the second half of the season I started (being paired) with Sean O’Donnell,” said Kuba, who is representing his native Czech Republic at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. “He had been in the league for a long time, so just looking at him and what he was doing on the ice helped me out.”

Now that he’s the wily veteran, Kuba is more than happy to impart some of his wisdom to younger teammates such as Karlsson.

“It’s not like I’m a teacher or something like that,” said Kuba, a native of Ostrava, Czech Republic. “But any time he wants to know something or asks me about different stuff on the ice, I’m glad to help.”

Says Karlsson: “Sometimes, he’ll tell me things that I should look for and try to do differently the next time. He helps me out as much as he can.”

"Filip doesn't say a whole lot – he’s a pretty quiet guy. But he's a smart player and when he does talk, he has some real good insight." - Cory Clouston
Kuba , originally selected by the Florida Panthers in the eighth round (192nd overall) of the 1995 NHL Entry Draft, spent five full seasons with the Wild and two with the Tampa Bay Lightning, who shipped him to the Senators in the Andrej Meszaros deal in August 2008. He quickly established himself as an offensive force, setting new career highs in assists (37) and points (40) during his first season on the Senators blue line.

But while Kuba isn’t exactly a stay-at-home blueliner, he hardly neglects the defensive side of his game.

“I’ve always tried to be a (two) way kind of player,” he said. “I want to take care of my own end, then try to be creative and support the offence, too.” 

The Senators also consider him a big part of their power play and he welcomes that opportunity.

“Any time I can spend on the ice and play, I’m glad for it,” Kuba said of his power-play duty. “You’re trying to change the game and you’re trying to help the team. That’s a big chance to do it, on the power play.”

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