January 6, 2011

Former Bruin Kobasew comes back to Boston on a roll

Chuck Kobasew scored 44 goals in 158 games for the Bruins. (Getty)

BOSTON -- Chuck Kobasew may have been born and raised in British Columbia, but his visit with the Wild to Boston this evening must feel a bit like a return home.

 Kobasew spent nearly four calendar years in the Hub of Hockey as a member of the Bruins. Known for his gritty, physical style and always playing much bigger than he actually was, Kobasew became one of the most beloved members of the Black and Gold. In addition to his surplus of toughness, Kobasew eclipsed 20 goals in each of his two full seasons in Boston.

 After a slow start to the 2009-10 campaign, however, the former freshman standout at Boston College was shipped off to Minnesota, in what was essentially a cap-related maneuver by Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli.

A rare chance to come back to the Garden, a place the Wild have only visited a handful of times in their decade of existence, is definitely a special moment for the former Bruin.

 "The East-West thing, you don't come here too often so it's nice to come back," Kobasew said, following Minnesota's morning skate at TD Garden. "It's a big game for us."

 Looking back on his days in Boston, the 28-year-old winger relished the dramatic turnaround the team quickly made the season after he arrived from Calgary.

 "It was good," Kobasew said of his tenure as a member of the B's, noting that he learned a lot and enjoyed his opportunity to play with so many great players.

 "What I remember the most was coming in and not being a playoff team and next year winning the conference, you know, getting better every year basically. It was fun to be part of that rebuilding process."

 After the trade last fall, the entire season proved to be a trying one for Kobasew. The former 14th overall pick missed time in November, just after arriving in Minnesota, then was sidelined for all of January and February with a knee injury.

 "Yeah it was a frustrating season, but it's done with," he said. "The trade, obviously you never know when trades are coming. It's the way it goes, it's part of the business. To get injured fairly soon after that and not be able to play until the last ten games of the year, that was frustrating."

 Reflecting on the deal, Kobasew understood full well that both teams were struggling at the time and looking to shake things up.

 "I think you look at both teams," he said. "We weren't off to a good start here and Minnesota wasn't off to a good start. It makes sense that both teams were looking for a bit of a changeup.

 "Sometimes you hear rumors and it never happens, other times you don't hear a thing until it happens. It's always a bit of a surprise when you get traded and it takes some time to make the adjustments."

 The injury bug snuck up on Kobasew again this season, but it appears that a persistent groin problem might finally be behind him.

"Yeah I was out there for a little while," he said. "I came back and didn't play like I wanted to and didn't feel as good as I wanted to out there. I'm starting to feel better now."

 Kobasew closed out December with five points over the team's final seven games, including four goals.

 "I've felt better the last ten games," he said. "First couple games coming back, the timing wasn't there and I just didn't feel great. You can practice all you want, but until you get in games and experience that,  it takes a couple games to get feeling comfortable again."

 Feeling comfortable on the familiar TD Garden ice this evening, however, shouldn't take Kobasew long at all.