Jan Kubista- feisty, hard working and smart!

By Ivana Paulova

Due to his appearance Czech magazine “Hokej” (Hockey) described Jan Kubista as one of the three musketeers from the Dumas’ book. Jan’s longer curly hair and adventurous personality can regard him as baroque type of character. But because of the draft Jan is forced to change his image, he will need to cut his hair very short and for the draft itself he will need to be dressed nicely as well as the rest of the present players. While meeting scouts for a pre-draft interview his mother is the one who always tells him to dress properly, shave and brush his hair before leaving home. But really image is not what matters and Jan knows that.

Kolin, a town not far away from Pardubice is Jan’s hometown. That is also where at the age of 4 Jan made his first hockey steps. Hockey was the immediate decision while Jan’s father and also his grandfather were hockey players. Jan was just continuing in their family tradition but he was still looking around him if there is something else he could at least try. Kolin is not that big and therefore the choices are limited; Jan did not want to play soccer as most of the kids did so other sport available in Kolin was basketball. After two practices he found out that hockey is just the best.
The first coach that Jan had was his father as it is very usual when your father is a former hockey player. He taught him all the basics like skating, shooting and passing. Despite Jan’s evident offensive talent he still wanted to try how does it feel to be a goalie. So he went in the goal after one week it was evident that Jan’s position should be in the forward. From then on Jan was never anything else than a forward and truly that is the position that suits him the best. Even though his frame enables him to be quite promising defender.

Jan kept playing for Kolin till the 9th grade. Then the next category are the midgets but in Kolin the midgets and also the juniors play only the second highest league not the Extraleague. And so for Jan as one of the best players in Kolin it would be pointless to keep on playing there. After 6 games for Kolin’s midgets Jan had 6 points (4+2) and so he wanted to play in the midgets Extralegue and his new team became Pardubice. They were close and actually they were the only ones who gave Jan an offer. To sum up his first midgets Extraleague season in Pardubice Jan played 44 games and gained 34 points (16+18). But Jan was not a Pardubice player until 2 years later since he was only playing for them but technically he was still Kolin’s player.
Pardubice could create very good conditions for Jan and being one of the best teams in the Czech Midgets and Junior Extraleague provided Jan with enough challenge. Pardubice’s teams in all categories always play at the top of the standings. Managers of the other teams can now feel sorry that they at least didn’t attempt to get Jan in their team because after the 2 years Jan signed a contract with Pardubice. Soon he was selected to the U-17 team and later was one of the key players of the U-18 team and developed to an excellent all-round player.

Jan’s career on the international scene was not mooth at the beginning. He didn’t perform as well as he would imagine on the tournament of the 9th graders where the coaches chose the players for the U-16 team. Jan wasn’t selected even for the training camp. In the next season he moved to Pradubice but while being there only on the loan they had no reason to promote him to national selection coaches. But in his second season in Pardubice he matured and points in his statistics columns were rapidly increasing. Soon he received his first invitation to the national selection. It was a tournament in the Czech Republic which was the last event of the U-17 selection schedule. Jan performed well and gained 5 points (1+4) in 5 games. From then on he participated on every event of the U-18 selection schedule.
The most successful was the Tournament of 4 in November 2001 in Slovakia where in 3 games Jan scored 4 goals. The peak of his up-till now career was definitely the U-18 World Championship. Where he had the honor of being awarded by a bronze medal. He was off to a very hot start after recording three points in the first game but then leaned more towards a defensive forward role. His offensive output seemed to vanish but the lesser his productivity was the bigger was his importancy on the backcheck. Kubista played a smart two-way game and didn’t hurt his reputation as a coveted 2002 prospect, even if he finished with those three points.

A shifty winger, Jan sees the ice well and possesses a tremendous vision and a knack for scoring goals. The main virtues that are typical for Jan‘s style of play are hard drive on the net, feel for combination and great smarts. He is also blessed with enormous courage and great heart beating only for hockey.
Jan has strong shooting skills and his stickhandling is perfect. Once on the puck, Jan tries very often to shoot it even if he can make accurate passes, too. He is very useful on powerplay units and plays with intensity and determination. Jan has to further develop his toughness and an ability to play in high traffic. His skating ability is good but not superb.
His defensive play could also be better but Jan doesn’t refuse to help his defense. Overall he is a well-developed feisty forward with lots of offensive flair and a goal scoring talent.

The main reason why Jan didn’t leave to play in the CHL is because of his family and also because of the school. He is studying on a sports high school in Pardubice and he will graduate next year. Therefore it is the most likely that he won’t leave Pardubice in the next season. Jan is a guy who has no problem adjusting himself to a new environment. He is very flexible and gets settled down pretty fast so in this area there would be no problem for him moving out to the North America. For Jan school is important as a basic of life but after finishing his studies he is done with school and will fully concentrate only on his beloved game of hockey.

This year was Jan’s rookie season in Pardubice juniors. He played on the right wing while his friend another 84 born prospect Jan Velich played o the center position. These two perfectly understood each other and their play was based on intuitive passing and perfect knowledge of each other’s intentions. Jan also played some games in one line with Petr Prucha (1982 born) and Jan Koukal (1982 born) who were the most successful players in the junior Extraleague this season gaining the trophies for the score leading forward and for goal score leading forward.

Some psychologists stand behind the idea that psychology can make up to 80% of player’s performance. In this aspect Jan is very resistant and stress can only motivate him to better performance, he focuses on the game fully. Off ice there are things that make Jan angry but he just learned not to attempt to solve them while he realized there is no point in doing so and he just goes his own way and is cool all the time. Hockey is important to him and as others he sacrifices everything to it. In his free time he relaxes a lot, listens to music or goes out with his friends. In the summer Jan is very active he goes in-line skating or plays soccer or basketball.

There was no real disappointment that Jan had to face in his life. Things go relatively well for him because he had no serious injury and has a strong supportive family background. His answer to that question evidently shows this, he said “my biggest disappointment was 4th place with Pardubice midgets last season”. On the other hand he values the most this year’s junior Extraleague title with Pardubice and bronze medal on the U-18 WJC. He accomplished more than he would even imagine and he is proud for this achievement but still he is down to earth while he knows he is only on the beginning of his career. His role model is Joe Sakic and it is not only for his on ice performance but also for his over all attitude to hockey. Hopefully Jan will also serve as a role model to some young players, he is definitely on the right track to be so. It may all start on the oncoming draft. Jan should be a solid 2nd round pick but he has the tools of the 1st round pick, currently he is ranked on 17th position among Euro skaters. Wish him the best because he is worth the chance and in any team he would be a useful prospect!