One Boston Bruins player that not only knows how talented some of the Carolina Hurricanes’ top star are now but how much they’ve improved over the years is winger Chuck Kobasew.
The veteran spent the NHL lockout year of 2004-05 as a Calgary Flames prospect skating alongside the cream of Carolina’s farm crop with the Lowell Lock Monsters. The team was a joint farm team for the Flames and Hurricanes and was stocked with future NHLers like Kobasew, Eric Staal, Mike Commodore, Matthew Lombardi and future Conn Smythe-winning goaltender Cam Ward.
“I knew we were going to have a good team. That made it fun, made it competitive. And that was a big part of the reason I went there,” Kobasew recalled today after the Bruins practiced in Wilmington, Mass., in preparation for their Eastern Conference semifinal series against Staal, Ward and the Hurricanes.
Under head coach Tom Rowe, Kobasew said he learned a lot and continued his development that season in Lowell. But in a stocked AHL with many prospects that would’ve been in the NHL had there not been a work stoppage, Lowell only reached the second round of the playoffs. The next year, many of those Hurricanes farm hands, plus Commodore, won the Stanley Cup. Now it’s up to Kobasew and his Boston teammates to slow Staal and C0., down and prevent them from making a trip to the conference finals.
“He was a good player back then, but now he’s an elite player in this league. And he had a great first round,” Kobasew said of Staal. “So we’re aware of him. They’ve got a very good offensive team, that’s for sure. They have a lot of guys that can produce. So we’ll have a big challenge.”