The last time the Detroit Red Wings were adding a Czech player named Dominik who used to play for the Chicago Blackhawks, it worked out pretty well for them.
Now, no one in the Red Wings organization is expecting that left winger Dominik Kubalik will be making the same impact in Detroit that two-time Stanley Cup winner Dominik Hasek did upon arrival in 2001.
Kubalik, though, is determined that a fresh start for him here could prove to be a launching point that will be getting him back to the level that made him a 30-goal scorer for the Blackhawks as an NHL rookie in 2019-20.
Done deals. 🤝
— NHL (@NHL) July 13, 2022
“I think the first season, the chemistry with Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad was amazing and I felt right away it started clicking,” Kubalik said of his inaugural NHL campaign. “Then we lost Saader and the second season Toewser was out, so that moment for me wasn’t easy to find somebody I can play with.
“I was up and down in the lineup. I think the second half of the season was much better. Last season, the season was up and down pretty much the whole year. Right from the beginning we got a losing streak and it’s usually hard to get back and get it going.
“Like the team we just couldn’t figure it out, how to win, how to play. That’s exactly what happened with me, too. I couldn’t find my game. I had some good streaks and some bad moments at the beginning of the season.
“But right now, it’s a fresh start, it’s a clean table and I’m very excited about the opportunity and hopefully I’m going to make a start like I did in Chicago.”
Kubalik Seeking Fresh Start With Red Wings
From his point of view, Kubalik, 26, looks upon every hockey season as another chance to do something special.
“I kind of feel every season is a new start,” Kubalik said. “You can get better, you can learn something. There is always something you can get better.
“Even from my first season, I knew that if I want to stay and I’m going to produce the same way I did, I need to do some things better. I think I was trying to make those steps for me, especially defensively.”
Dominik Kubalik, signed 2x$2.5M by DET, is a middle six sniper who somehow manages to put up okay underlying numbers despite doing very little other than taking shots off the rush. #LGRW pic.twitter.com/vByVfKEhSu
— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) July 13, 2022
He followed that 30-goal campaign in Chicago with seasons of 17 and 15 goals. Kubalik felt even though his production was dipping, his overall game was growing.
“From year one to year three I think I got better,” he said. “For me it’s usually not usually the points, I think sometimes it’s better when you grow as a man, a human being. I think every season I made a step forward.
“From being a rookie, maybe a little older rookie, but still a rookie, learning things, stuff around the league. Right now I feel more confident about it and know what to expect.
“There is always something and right now I can see a clean table, fresh start, fresh mind. For sure it’s going to be helpful to me.”
Yzerman Expecting Boost To Power Play
The power play has proven to be a sore spot for the Red Wings for some years now. Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman believes the addition of free-agent forwards David Perron and Kubalik will be offering more lethal options for Detroit’s second power-play unit. At 6-foot-2 and 179 pounds, Kubalik is also bringing more size to the Red Wings forward group.
“I think we do have more depth,” Yzerman said. “I’m cautiously optimistic. I think we can match up a little bit against other teams and I just keep my fingers crossed that it plays out that way.
“With the addition of Perron, Kubalik, we can put out two pretty good power-play units. I think we have a little more ability.”
Keeping Up The Pace
Watching from afar, one factor that Kubalik really was admiring about the Red Wings was their ability to pick up the pace.
“I kind of felt they were faster than us last year,” Kubalik said. “In today’s hockey I think it’s all about quickness and whoever is faster has the better opportunity.”
He’s hoping to ramp up his own game playing alongside these speedy players who wear the winged wheel.
“It’s exciting,” Kubalik said. “I’m there to help. I’m hoping that I can do much better than I did last year. I know it’s in me and I’m going to do everything I can do prove it.
“I can’t ask for a better opportunity and even higher motivation than I have right now.”