Early yesterday afternoon, former Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Pavel Kubina announced his official retirement from the National Hockey League. Kubina, who spent 10 of his 13 seasons in the National Hockey League with the Lightning, wrote a letter announcing his retirement and expressing his thoughts and feelings about the time he spent in the league.
Here is a look at that letter in its entirety courtesy of the Official Tampa Bay Lightning website.
The time has come to announce my retirement from the game of hockey. This marks the end of a journey that started as a six-year-old boy in a tiny town in the Czech Republic and carried me through 970 games in the National Hockey League, many playoff games and a Stanley Cup Championship, three Olympics, and four World Championships over my 13-year NHL career.
I need to first thank my parents, who encouraged, pushed and humbled me when I needed it. They drove me to thousands of practices and games as a boy, and without them, none of this journey would have ever been possible.
A member of the 2004 Stanley Cup Championship team, Pavel Kubina scored 110 goals and 276 assists for 386 points in his NHL Career.
I would also like to thank my wife, Andrea, and daughters, Tereza and Victoria, for being there for me through the good times and a bad, and supporting me in every decision I made.
I would like to thank all of the players and coaches I have played with and for, from my days as a youth to my Czech national teammates and those from four different NHL teams. You all helped me become the best defenseman I could be and have given me friendships I will treasure forever.
The vast majority of my career in the NHL was spent with the Tampa Bay Lightning, including our memorable Stanley Cup Championship in 2004. I wish I could say something about each and every one of my Lightning teammates and coaches, but the list would be too long and I wouldn’t want to leave anybody out. You know who you are and it was honor and a privilege to play with each and every one of you.
I do need to give special thanks, however, to the legendary Phil Esposito, who in the 1996 NHL Draft said: “I want that big kid from the Czech Republic, Kubina, I think.” Phil, I hope you are still glad you drafted me and thank you for this incredible opportunity.
Finally, I would like to thank the great Tampa Bay Lightning fans. Although I did not have the opportunity to play my final game in front of the same fans that I played my first game, which I desperately wanted to do, rest assured my heart, my skates, my No. 13 jersey and my home will always be here among you in Tampa Bay. Your cheers and your support throughout my career gave me fond memories that I will cherish for a lifetime.
Finally, I would like to say Jeff Vinik is one of the best owners I have ever played for and Tampa Bay is very lucky to have him.
What is your favorite memory of the former Lightning defenseman? What kind of impact do you think he made during his time with the team? Sound off in the comments below and let us know what you think.