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Best of Unplugged: Kobasew and Staubitz

by Staff Writer / Minnesota Wild
Hockey Unplugged is an event that Wild players and fans look forward to throughout the season. Unplugged host Kevin Falness engages in an always-entertaining Question & Answer period with two players, which is then followed by an autograph session. The last Unplugged appearance was supposed to include goaltender Jose Theodore and winger Chuck Kobasew. A Theodore injury meant Brad Staubitz, who was an Unplugged guest in November, would get the call once again. Staubitz and Kobasew came through in the clutch. Here’s the best of what they had to say on January 12 at Sak’s in Vadnais Heights.

KF:    Chuck, you got your first trip back to Boston since being traded from there last season. Did you enjoy your time with the Bruins? 

CK:    Yeah, it was good. I got traded there from Calgary and it was my first trade, so it was a little bit of a surprise. The team wasn’t in the playoffs that year and by the end of my time there, we won the Eastern Conference. To be a part of a team like that was built like that…it was exciting.

KF:    Lately the team has been having problems keeping their goaltenders healthy. Would either of you consider putting on the pads if called upon?

BS:    I think it’s just a matter of time for me. I started out as a defenseman and now I’m a forward. If forward doesn’t work out, hopefully I’ve developed enough skills in road hockey to be able to be a backup in this league.
To be a goalie, I think one of the credentials is to be a little weird. I don’t know if I’d really want to stand in front of a 90 mile per hour slap shot. I wouldn’t volunteer for it.

CK:    I started out playing goalie. I played goalie until I was about 12 years old, and then realized it was time for a change. You get sick of taking shots. I was on a really good team and I was taking harder shots in practice then I was in games. I decided I wanted to play forward.

KF:    Brad, who’s the toughest fighter you’ve ever run up against?

BS:    It’s tough to decide. I think any given night one guy might be able to get one in on another guy. But, I guess I’ll go with who has beaten me up the most. Back to my juniors days, it would be a guy named Josh Gratton. We called him “Old Leatherface” because no matter how many times you hit him he was unfazed. All of a sudden you’re waking up on the ice and you’re like, “…that guy’s pretty tough!”

Raitis Ivanans, now with Calgary, is a big human being. He’s Boogaard big. He was probably one of the tougher guys too.

KF:    How about this year, you lead the Wild in fighting majors with seven. Of those seven, who hit the hardest?

BS:    I think Anaheim’s George Parros is one of the tougher guys around the league right now, as well as Cam Janssen. But the (Kyle) Clifford guy in L.A. kind of got the better of me. He switched to his lefts pretty quick and surprised me. He seems like a pretty tough up-and-coming kid around the league.

KF:    How tough is it to be in your shoes and/or skates on a nightly basis. Todd Richards says that if you’re in or out of the lineup it really doesn’t have much to do with what you’re doing, it’s more about the team you’re facing. Is it hard not knowing if you’re going to be in?

BS:    I don’t really know ever. I don’t know if the coaches like keeping it a secret or what. A lot of times you just find out after warmups depending on who they have in their lineup and you try to match from there. So you just kind of play it game-by-game. Hopefully you’re in the lineup. If not you just hit the gym and wait until the next game.

KF:    What are road trips like for you guys? Are you like a big family when you’re away from St. Paul for an extended amount of time?

BS:    I love being on the road. It does make the boys a lot tighter. Whether it’s going out for dinner or pulling pranks on each other. On the road, the real tricksters on the team show up to play. Whether you’re getting “leaners” on your hotel doors or whatever, you always have to be paying attention. It’s an enjoyable time and it makes everyone closer.

KF:    Leaners?

BS:    The “Leaner!” You fill a garbage can full of water and lean it on a guys door, knock and when they open it they soak their feet and the inside of their hotel room.

KF:    Do guys still fall for that?

BS:    Every trip, someone gets one. I can tell you (Cam Barker) and I got Zanon and Stoner. We could hear them screaming playing video games next door and they were getting a little rowdy so we got them with a leaner. They don’t know it was us yet. It’s a great feeling when you can get someone.

KF:    Chuck, are you a prankster or prankee?

BS:    He’s pretty shady about his business. I think he is a prankster, but he’s played enough games in this league to really know how to be undercover about it and get away with things and frame people and look each other off. It’s really a sport within the sport of being able to get guys.

CK:    I prefer to watch and take it all in rather than be a part of it or be on the bad end I guess. I’ve seen some funny things over my days.

If you watched “24/7” on HBO that followed the Penguins and Capitals, in the first episode one of the first things that happened was two rookies went out for dinner and when they came back their bed and their whole room was set up in the hallway. And then of course you’re responsible for getting your room back in order. Just funny things like that that happen and no harm done.

KF:    One of your teammates is a first time All Star. What was it like being around Brent Burns once he found out he was selected? Did his head swell up a little bit?

BS:    That guy could have a good day and a bad day and you’d never know the difference. He’s got one gear and it’s go. It’s amazing the energy level he has. He was excited and jittery like he always is. I think everyone was happy for him and that’s something he should be happy and proud about.

KF:    He also has a 10-month-old daughter. I know you’ve seen him around his baby. What’s Brent Burns like as a daddy?

BS:    Let’s just say he’s got a great wife. She’s going to be a saint for sure.
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