Goodnight and Good Luck – Viktor KubenkoPosted: 17/08/2012
With yesterday’s announcement that Greg Chambers has rejoined the Bison and the club that brought him into British hockey, it means that for the 2nd time in two seasons we have to bid farewell a fan favourite, the Slovak Machine, Viktor Kubenko.
What have we lost?
In Kubenko, the Bison lose one of last season’s more potent offensive threats. Having been a smash hit in his first season (see his last GNGL piece and remember that hattrick against MK on the last day of the 2010/11 season) Kubenko decided to stay closer to home but answered the call to return to Basingstoke when Moria released Marek Dubec. Kubenko brought size, skill and an eye for goal to the Bison that you want from your import forward. He slotted back into the time nicely, immediately reuniting on a line with Moria and also at times forming a decent partnership with Liam Chong which gave Kubenko someone who could keep up with his speed to play with and Chong someone to clear him a path. Kubenko was also a player that could be used in every situation which is what you want from your top import forward.
Where has he gone?
At the moment, nowhere. There were some rumours he was going to call it a day but I personally wouldn’t be surprised if he surfaced back home in the 2nd tier where he was before rejoining the Bison.
Who replaces him?
As with a lot of our signings this summer, nobody really outright replaces anyone else’s role bar in a few instances. The change in styles from Moria coaching to Sheppard coaching means that players are taking on different functions. Across the top 2 forward lines we have players prepared to do a bit of the gritty (Rand, Greener), the skill (Owen, Chambers) and be prepared to skate through a wall (Sheppard, Miller) so there is no direct person to slot in.
It’s hard to dislike Kubenko; true he didn’t have the best of second terms with the Bison (40 points from 40 games) as his initial blockbuster 1st season but I don’t know anyone who was disappointed with him returning. There’s an argument to be made that perhaps he’d been solved by other teams this past season or perhaps the shift in the standard of the league had an effect where he was playing in a Bison side that moved sideways. It’s hard to say.
I think one of the things Kubenko can be credited with is that he was truly an entertaining player. There were few players that we’ve seen in a Bison shirt (certainly in my time watching the club) where you got the feeling they could score on nearly every shift they were on the ice. Kubenko at times could make defences look invisible by either speeding past them or occasionally dangling round them. He had the talent to make goalies look utterly incompetent.
The one thing Kubenko was guilty of however was occasionally trying to do too much on his own. He’s very much aware of his talents but when the team was faltering he seemed to think it was solely his responsibility to drag the team back into the game and that meant he had to do everything. It led to him getting more frustrated which ultimately didn’t help the team or get us back into the game. At times the team tactics didn’t help with this either but a sense of resignation would fall over block C when we realised what was happening.
In a few years from now when we sit down to discuss the best players for the Bison at the 30th anniversary, I’d venture Kubenko will get mentioned in the discussion. He won’t go down as the best but he’ll certainly get mentioned just for the impact he had on games at times.
All the best Kubo, time to retire the hashtag again.