We start Day 2 of NHL free agency with the news that defenseman Pavel Kubina has signed a two-year deal to return to Tampa Bay, where he won a Stanley Cup in 2004. The deal with worth$7.7 million – $4.2 million next season and $3.5 million in 2011-12.
Here’s what Kubina said to reporters: “I talked to Steve yesterday and I was very impressed with the direction he’s going in with the team. I always wanted to come home. Other than Czech, Tampa Bay is my second home. I still have my house there and even though I had other offers on the table, I couldn’t pass this up. I’m looking forward to playing with Vinny and Marty again as well as with the younger guys like Stamkos and Hedman.”
I did talk to Johan Hedberg from Sweden this morning. He said it was a crazy day yesterday. He was working with the Thrashers, but once they pulled their offer he had to act fast. There were other teams interested before he signed with New Jersey.
“I really enjoyed my time in Atlanta,” Hedberg said. “It was a really good second home for my family. [The Thrashers] are moving in the right direction. Hopefully it will work out. I hope the team continues to develop and hockey continues to grow.”
Not to dwell on those that are leaving, but I also talked to Colby Armstrong last night after he signed with Toronto. He, again, had nothing but nice things to say about Atlanta. He did say the Thrashers made initial contact and then didn’t hear from them until the draft, but nothing really serious.
Before I move on, on a personal note, I’m learning that hockey is a business. Players have said this to me plenty of times before. However, it starts to hit home for a reporter getting back to it after 20 years when really good people like Marty Reasoner, Kubina, Hedberg and Armstrong move on.
Here are some leftover quotes from new goaltender Chris Mason, that I was unable to fit into the story yesterday.
On whether he will be the No. 1 goaltender: “Nothing has been said about playing time. That’s earned.”
On his work habits: “The most important thing, for me, is to try my best every day. … My work ethic won’t be questioned.”
On craziness of July 1: “It was an unsettling day. You get an offer and you have 10 minutes to decide. At the end of the day I’m happy to be in Atlanta.”
On thinking he had a two-year extension with St. Louis worked out only to find out the had obtained Halak: “It caught me off guard.”
On his style: “I think I’ve put up pretty good numbers. I’m not a flashy guy. I want to help this team to improve.”
On coming to Atlanta: “I’ve look at the team and I’m familiar with a lot of the guys. It looks like this team is getting better. It’s excited. I hope we are going to surprise a lot of people. This team is good enough to win right now.”
Some leftover thoughts from Dudley:
On Mason: “He’s a wonderful player. He’s been a No. 1 for a few years now and he’s got some pretty impressive numbers.”
Dudley said he’s not quite done and will “kick the tires” in free agency and trades. He did say he would be interested in another defenseman. That was also before Kubina signed with TB.
Dudley said the trade for Andrew Ladd had been in the works for awhile. Gets that’s what he was trying to tell me when he said free agency wasn’t the only way to add players.
Dudley said team explored “cheaper” options at goaltender.
Let’s see what develops today.