Mates praise Kubina's game

TERRY KOSHAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:02 AM ET

At 6-foot-4 and more than 240 pounds, Pavel Kubina probably would have been an effective power forward in the National Hockey League.

And though the big Czech has been receiving accolades for his spate of game-winning goals, the Maple Leafs like him right where he is. Peel back the layers on Kubina's goal-scoring from the blue line and a more complete picture of the defenceman comes into focus.

"When you look at the scoresheet at the end of the game, you don't see the little things that players see on the ice," forward Darcy Tucker said. "Pav has blocked (149) shots and comes hard every night to play for this team. It's nice to see him scoring, but it does not (fully) measure a player as a teammate."

LEADS IN GOALS

Kubina leads Toronto defencemen with 10 goals and in the past three Leafs victories has tied an obscure club record. Not since Harry Cameron in 1922-23, when the team was known as the St. Pats, has a Leaf scored the game-winning goal in three consecutive wins.

One could argue that it remains difficult to justify the four-year, $20-million US contract former general manager John Ferguson gave Kubina a couple of summers ago. But Kubina has not been a one-trick pony this season.

Only nine NHL players, prior to last night, had blocked more shots than Kubina. He leads Leafs defencemen with 31 takeaways and only Tucker, with 112 hits, has more on the team than the 109 piled up by Kubina.

And most Leafs will tell you that Kubina is among the more popular guys in the dressing room. Whether it all adds up to make Kubina more attractive on the trade market this summer -- the Leafs will have a window from the draft in June to mid-August to deal him, if they wish, provided they don't make the playoffs -- remains to be seen.

"He is a real caring person," coach Paul Maurice said. "When things aren't going well, it really weighs on him. I think we are seeing some confidence with Pavel where he feels like he is helping now."

And to think, if Kubina got his way when he was a kid, he might never have known the blue line.

"I wanted to be a forward growing up but I was always a big guy and they always put me on the back (end)," Kubina said. "For me, it's about blocking shots, making the passes out of our zone. There is a lot of pressure in Toronto, and it is nice to get goals, but it is all about winning and about the team."


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