TAMPA — Once Pavel Kubina was held out of practice and scratched from both Tampa Bay Lightning games this week, it was just a matter of time until the defenseman was gone.
On Saturday, the Tampa Bay Lightning pulled the trigger and traded the defenseman to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for two draft picks and minor-league forward Jon Kalinski.
Sunday, an emotional Kubina cleaned out his locker at Tampa Bay Times Forum for the last time.
“Steve (Yzerman) brought me to the office a couple of days ago and asked me for a list of five teams,” Kubina said. “He said, ‘We would like to move you,’ and after that he sent me home.”
Kubina never supplied the list, but the trade came about quickly anyway.
“I was just sitting home, waiting for what was going to happen. I could have come up with a list of five teams but I didn’t do it,” Kubina said. “I could have waited another seven days to do that, but when I spoke to Steve (Yzerman) about Philly, I thought it was the right thing to do.
“He told me there was a great offer coming from Philadelphia and after that I thought about it: it’s a great team, a mix of young players and stars and obviously players like [Flyers forward Jaromir] Jagr, and it’s a very good team. I thought about it and talked to my family. I love playing hockey and it’s another chance for me to go and play for a great team and a Stanley Cup contender and be in the playoffs again.”
The Lightning will receive a second-round pick from the Flyers in either 2012 or 2013, a pick previously acquired from Florida (Florida’s option), as well as the Flyers’ own fourth-rounder in 2013 in addition to Kalinski.
“I think the Lightning are getting a lot for me,” Kubina said. “I’m 34 years old and they got a second and a fourth round pick, so that’s a lot for me.”
He has appeared in 52 games for the Lightning this season, posting three goals and eight assists. While Victor Hedman recovered from a concussion and missed 13 games in January, Kubina stepped up to the first defensive pairing, playing alongside Eric Brewer.
Kubina will join two other former Tampa Bay Lightning players on the Flyers defense, Matt Carle and Andrej Mezaros.
Philadelphia will be Kubina’s fourth NHL team. He also played with the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Atlanta Thrashers in addition to two stints with Tampa Bay. He was a member of the Lightning’s Stanley Cup-winning team in 2004 and appeared in the 2004 NHL All-Star Game.
“It’s been very difficult, not only for me but for my family,” Kubina said. “I know it’s a business and this is part of the business and I just have to move on.”
Although he is resigned to moving forward, Kubina didn’t depart before sounding a note of disappointment.
“To be honest, when I signed to come back here (in 2010) I had better offers from other teams; more years and for more money, and I took this deal because this team belongs to my heart and I spent so many great times here. I was drafted by Phil Esposito (seventh round in 1996), then we struggled so much for a few years — I had a chance to grow up in the NHL and play here for around 700 games. I grew up as a player and then we won the Stanley Cup and I made so many good friends here, so many friends for life. I met so many good people, it’s hard to leave and like I said, this team will always belong to my heart.
“I always thought this team, even when we were out of the playoffs by eight or ten points, I still hoped that we would make the playoffs. This is a great group of guys and we proved it last year; this year was pretty much the same team. We struggled this year, but this team is still fighting for a playoff spot and now they are only six points out and they have a great shot at it, so I was a little disappointed that Steve lost the patience and the hope for us.”
Kubina, who will finish this season as an unrestricted free agent, ruled out a return to Tampa Bay in the future.
“I think it happens once,” Kubina said, “and to be honest, I don’t think so.”
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