Born June 16, 1978 (age 33) in Elektrėnai, Lithuania
Center and right wing for the New Jersey Devils
Sometimes to pick a Man of the Day, I just go to a team’s Wiki page, pick a name and see what surprised await. Pretty much every guy in the NHL has his own interesting story. But I saw the flag next to Zubrus’ name and decided I needed to investigate. He is Lithuanian and is the first man from his country to have played 1000 NHL games! He went from Lithuania to Ukraine in 1989 to play there and hone his skills, which he did until 1995. That season, he made his North American debut with the CJHL’s Pembroke Lumber Kings, also played with the junior-level Caledon Canadians and was drafted 15th overall in 1996 by Philadelphia. His debut night in October 1996 saw him score his first goal against Florida and his rookie year featured the Flyers going all the way to the Cup final.
In 1999, he was traded up to Montreal in exchange for Mark Recchi (hey!). His first hatty came in 2000 against Chicago and he saw himself heading off to Washington in 2001. He was a Capital when the lockout happened and decided to join teammate and former MotD Alexander Semin in Russia. Aw! (Speaking of Russia, he once represented it in international play but switched to repping Lithuania. As someone born when the USSR still existed, he has that choice.) He came right back to DC the following season, having a career-high campaign. On pace to produce just as well the next season, he was traded to Buffalo in February 2007. But after his time with the Sabres, he went into free agency that offseason and signed with New Jersey for six years.
He entered the “big boys club” (as Marc Savard put it) of scoring four goals in one game in a November 2008 bout against Tampa Bay. Last season, he appeared in 79 games, scoring 13 goals and 17 assists with 53 penalty minutes. New Jersey didn’t make the playoffs last season, but right now they’re sixth in the East, so who knows?