The 1997-98 season saw defenseman Kubina spend the majority of his time with the Adirondack Red Wings of the American Hockey League, playing in 55 games, but also making his NHL debut with the Lightning, playing in a total of 10 games that season, which included scoring his first NHL goal.
The following season Kubina saw his final games in the minors, playing in six contests for the Cleveland Lumberjacks of the International Hockey League, but the majority of the season was spent establishing himself as an NHL regular with 68 games and 21 points for Tampa Bay.
Kubina would spend the next six seasons with the Lighting patrolling the blueline, averaging 75 games played and 29 points a season, which was highlighted by being a member of Tampa Bay's Stanley Cup championship season of 2003-04. Kubina would contribute 4 points during the 22 playoff games in the Lightning's run to the cup.
During the NHL lockout of 2004-05, Kubina did what many European natives chose to do, and he returned to the club where he got his start, HC Viktovice. Unlike most NHLers though, Kubina did not return to the NHL once the season resumed in January of 2005 and stayed with Viktovice.
He did return to the Lighting for the 2005-06 season, picking up where he left off with a then career high 38 points in 75 games.
After eight seasons with Tampa Bay, Kubina singed a free agent contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs for the 2006-07 season. Kubina had been wearing #13 while playing for the Lightning, but found that number occupied by no less than the Maple Leafs team captain Mats Sundin. Unable to wear his preferred #13, Kubina chose to go with #73, since the mainly vertical #7 was the most visibly similar to the #1.
After a slow start to his Maple Leafs career, which included games lost due to injuries, Kubina decided that #73 wasn't really quite right for him and chose to change to #31 in December of 2006, which was #13 with the digits reversed.
When Kubina began wearing #31, he became the first non-goaltender to wear #31 for Toronto in their then 81 year history. In a classy move on his part, Kubina offered to pay for anyone who had already purchased a Maple Leafs jersey with his #73 to have it converted to a #31 out of his own pocket!
After Kubina competed the remainder of the 2006-07 season and all of the 2007-08 season with #31, including setting a career high with 40 points in 2007-08, the Maple Leafs re-signed their former goaltender Curtis Joseph to a free agent contract for the upcoming 2008-09 season.
Joseph had been the Maple Leafs #1 goalkeeper from 1998-99 through the 2001-02 season before leaving for the Detroit Red Wings. After five seasons away from Toronto, Joseph, now in the later phase of his career, signed with the Maple Leafs in a backup role to Vesa Toskala. Kubina, showing a great sense of history and class, relinquished the #31 to Joseph, who had worn it all throughout his now 19 year NHL career.
Kubina then elected to go with yet a new number, this time #77, likely due to the fact he was born on this date in 1977, similar to the number change undergone by teammate Nik Antropov, who himself swapped #11 for #80 for the year of his birth 1980, during the 2002-03 season.
The change to #77 had no ill effects for Kubiina, who not only matched his career best 40 points from the season prior, but he also set a new career high in goals scored with 14.
Kubina's time in Toronto came to an end when he was dealt to the Atlanta Thrashers for the 2009-10 season, where he one more produced his steady output of 38 points in 76 games while sticking with the #77 in Atlanta as he arrived to find Slava Kozlov having already claimed #13 and Ondrej Pavelec wearing #31.
After his only season in Atlanta, Kubina returned to Tampa Bay as a free agent where he was finally able to reclaim his #13 after four seasons away from the Lightning. Kubina would play all of the 2010-11 season and 52 games of the 2011-12 season with Tampa Bay before a late season trade sent him to the Philadelphia Flyers for the final 17 games of the season.
With the NHL players again locked out at the start of the 2010-13 season, Kubina planned on returning to familiar ground and signed with HC Vikovice for his third stint with the Czech club, only he was still subject to a 15 game ban he incurred back in 2005 when last playing for Viktovice after they lost a playoff series in which they were leading 3 games to 1. Kubina called the referee of the deciding game that went against them "a corrupt bastard" and accused him of taking a bribe! His comments not only earned him a ban, but also a 7,000 Euro fine and a lawsuit for slander, which set him back another 14,000 Euros.
Kubina did manage to find some playing time in Europe this season, signing with Geneve Servette of the Swiss National League A in mid February, apparently declining several offers to return to the NHL. He would play just three regular season games and one playoff game with the club, which were the final of his playing career.
Internationally, Kubina has been a regular on the Czech Republic national team, dating back to the 1996 World Junior Championships. He joined the senior team at the World Championships in 1999, coming away with a gold medal on his first try while scoring 8 points in 12 games. His second World Championship gold came in 2001 and a busy 2002 saw him make his Olympic debut in February, followed by his third World Championships later that spring.
He completed a hat trick of World Championship gold in 2005 and added another medal to his collection with a bronze at the 2006 Olympics. His final international competition was the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
His final NHL career totals were 970 games played with 110 goals and 386 points, a Stanley Cup and three World Championship gold medals and an Olympic bronze on his resume.
Today's featured jersey is a 2007-08 Toronto Maple Leafs Pavel Kubina jersey from Kubina's second season as #31 and the first for the new Reebok Edge jerseys. These jerseys lack the usual waist stripes of the Maple Leafs jerseys of the previous 13 seasons reportedly due to Reebok's original intent that their new generation of jerseys would be tucked into the player's pants, eliminating the need for any waist striping.
When the jerseys were eventually worn untucked as always, the waist striping returned in 2008-09 on the club's new alternate jersey and in 2010-11 when the home and road styles were tweaked.
Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 2008-09 Toronto Maple Leafs Pavel Kubina jersey as worn on January 31, 2009 when the Maple Leafs celebrated former team captain Doug Gilmour's #93 by raising it to the rafters where it joined the ranks of Maple Leafs honored numbers.
Today's video section begins with a brief, but hard hitting tribute to Kubina highlighting his time with the Maple Leafs.
This next video focuses on Kubina's time with Tampa Bay.
Finally, the Fastest Announcer in the World narrates highlights of Kubina's first gold medal with the Czech Republic at the 1999 World Championships. There is even an interview with Kubina in his native Czech, and he's apparently trying to talk as fast as the announcer!