There’s no shortage of reasons for Pavel Kubina to be excited about making his Flyers debut tonight.
One, Philly is playoff-bound whereas his former team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, is not.
Two, Kubina’s a right-handed shooting defenseman, something the Flyers didn’t have prior to his arrival.
Three, he gets to play with Jaromir Jagr, rather than against him.
“It wasn’t easy for me to play against him 1-on-1. It never was easy to stop him,” Kubina told CSN Philadelphia’s Sarah Baicker. “We had a few battles over those 10 years we played against each other. I was pretty happy when he left for Russia. This game really missed him and I’m honored to play with him.”
Kubina and Jagr have been teammates internationally on a number of occasions, most recently with the Czech Republic at the 2010 Winter Olympics. And even though there’s only six years difference between the two — Kubina is 34, Jagr just turned 40 — the newest Flyer speaks about No. 68 in reverent tones.
“He’s one of the best ever to play in this game and he’s such a good guy, especially for the young guys,” Kubina said. “A lot of rookies, for them to watch a guy like that practice and do a little extra every day, it’s good for them to see a guy like that. He’s a legend in the league.”
As for tonight, Kubina will likely make his debut alongside Matt Carle on the Flyers blueline. Carle had been previously paired with rookie Marc-Andre Bourdon, but Flyers coach Peter Laviolette liked what he saw at practice with his new Carle-Kubina pairing.
“[Kubina’s] a big, hulking type guy that provides a presence back there,” he told NHL.com. “He plays with a little bit of an edge. He’s got a big shot on the back end, a right-handed shot. That’s something different to our back unit. We don’t have any right-handed defenseman back there.”