Checking Out Chuck Kobasew

Chuck Kobasew was born in Osoyoos, British Columbia, on April 17, 1982. By the time the right winger hit the  British Columbia Hockey League, he was making a name for himself as an offensive, hard-working player who left everything on the ice every game.

In 2000, he earned the BCHL Interior Division MVP. He was also named to the Interior Conference First All Star team. These honors were due in large part to his impressive offensive production. That year, he was the league's top goal scorer and ranked fifth in overall points. Kobasew led his team, the Penticton Panthers, in power play goals (15) and short-handed goals (5). His strong performance helped his team to make the conference finals and finish the season with the championship victory. It was during that season that he became the third player in Panther's history to record a 50 goal season (54g/52a in 58 games).

After making his mark in the BCHL, Kobasew chose to further his hockey career in the United States by attending Boston College. He had an impressive freshman year there, recording 49 points in 43 games (27g/22a) and helping the Eagles win the NCAA Championship. During the tournament, Kobasew's strong performance led to him being awarded the NCAA Championship Tournament MVP and being named to the NCAA Championship All-Tournament Team. He was recognized for his stellar year by being chosen for the Hockey East Second All-Star team, as well, and named Hockey East Rookie of the Year. The culmination of that amazing year was when the Calgary Flames drafted the 19-year-old in the first round of the 2001 Entry Draft (14th overall).

Despite such a strong performance at Boston College, the forward left the NCAA ranks to join the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL. In the 2001-2002 season, he recorded 41 goals and 21 assists for 62 points in 55 games. He also racked up 114 PIMs. Kobasew played for Canada in the World Junior Championships that year; with his 6 points in 7 games (5g/1a), he helped Canada to the final round where they took home the silver.

His year in the WHL was followed by his entry into the Calgary Flames' organization. He started the 2002-2003 season for the Flames' AHL affiliate, the St. John Flames, where he recorded 33 points (21g/12a) in 48 games. The rookie also saw time with the big club due to injuries to key players. In his 23 games, he scored 4 goals and 2 assists.

Kobasew made the Flames' roster out of training camp in 2003. He logged 70 games that season, but he saw his production continue to struggle at the NHL level. During that time, he only managed to hit the back of the net 6 times and help out on an additional 11 goals. In his rookie and sophomore years, he spent most of his minutes on the third and fourth lines. He realized he had to change his game accordingly if he wanted to stay in the NHL. He struggled with this that season and ended with a plus/minus rating of -12.

For many players, the lock out was a speed bump in their careers. For Kobasew, it was the opposite. After having a hard time in his first taste of the NHL, he rejuvenated his play by once again finding a scoring touch. The forward spent the 2004-2005 season playing for the Lowell Lock Monsters of the AHL. He had a superb season, scoring at nearly a point-per-game pace. He also put up 9 points in 11 playoff games.

His confidence renewed, Kobasew returned to the NHL for the 2005-2006 season. This would be the third-liner's first 20-goal season. In January, he recorded his first career hat trick...against the Colorado Avalanche. He ended the season with 34 points.

Unfortunately, the following season did not go as well. Plagued with injuries, the forward saw only 40 games (4g/13a) with the Flames before being traded with Andrew Florence to the Boston Bruins in a deal for Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau. In the 10 games he played with Boston, Kobasew only managed to get one goal and one assist.

However, the 2007-2008 season was a career one for the Canadian. He hit the 20-goal mark for the second time and put up 39 points in 73 games. On May 13, 2008, he signed a 3-year extension with the Bruins for $7 million. He continued his offensive performance the following year by logging his third 20-goal season and highest production to date (21g/21a) despite only appearing in 68 games.

Early in the 2009-2010 season, Kobasew was traded to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Craig Weller, prospect Alexander Fallstrom, and a 2011 second round pick. The Bruins insisted it was purely a business decision and praised the forward repeatedly. "Chuck, to me, was always a true professional," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "He came in and it was all business when (he) was at the rink. Very good individual, good person, and it wasn't easy to let him go. There's no doubt we liked him here."

Clearly, Kobasew struggled in Minnesota. Despite recording his second career hat trick against - wait for it - the Avalanche in November, he was again beset by injuries (knee) which limited him to only 42 games. In those 42 games, he scored a dismal 9 goals and 5 assists. The following season wasn't much better. Another injury (groin) kept him to 63 games. Again, his numbers were terrible (9g, 7a). One positive to be taken from his time with the Wild is that the forward was used in many situations and regularly saw time on both the right and left wings. When brought up to the top lines beside Andrew Brunette and Mikko Koivu, his production and offensive presence improved.

At the start of the Free Agency period in 2011, the Avalanche signed Chuck Kobasew to a 2-year contract worth $1.25 million per year. There's a good chance that the forward will bounce back from his difficult seasons in Minnesota as the Avalanche are a fast, offensively-minded team -- an environment in which he seems to thrive. His work ethic and dedication also fit in with the Avalanche credo. Moreover, Kobasew enjoys the rebuilding process for teams and has experience with taking a team that is not considered a threat and helping to turn it into a champion. "What I remember the best was coming here (with Boston College), not being a playoff team and making the playoffs and the next year winning the conference, getting better every year basically. It's fun to be a part of that kind of building process."

 

References:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chuck_Kobasew
http://www.hockeyfights.com/news/161175
http://bceagles.cstv.com/sports/m-hockey/mtt/kobasew_chuck00.html
http://www.nesn.com/2011/01/former-bruin-bc-eagle-chuck-kobasew-heating-up-for-wild-after-inury-plagued-start.html
http://www.patriotledger.com/sports/pros/x549589986/Chuck-Kobasew-is-the-Bruins-unnoticed-scoring-source
http://www.hockeyeastonline.com/pdf/men/snapshots/00_01.pdf
http://www.legendsofhockey.net/LegendsOfHockey/jsp/SearchPlayer.jsp?player=20162
http://capgeek.com/players/display.php?id=219

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