Friday, February 18, 2011

Tomas Kaberle

Tomas Kaberle joined the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1998. He arrived as an unheralded and largely unknown 20 year old prospect drafted in the 8th round, 206th overall.

It was assumed he would start the year in the minors, but he skated his way onto that Pat Quinn led team and was a mainstay on the Leafs blue line for 13 years. (So much for Pat Quinn not playing or developing youngsters).

The kid with the rosy cheeks could skate. I’ve been watching the Leafs for nearly 35 years and there haven’t been many defencemen that could glide through the neutral zone and gain the blue line with the efficiency or apparent ease of Kaberle. Salming for sure, Randy Carlysle was another, but you’d only need one hand to count them all.

Kaberle’s detractors, and there are more than a few, didn’t like his defensive zone coverage or his lack of physical play. Fair enough, I suppose. Lucian Freud is likely a lousy singer and I guess Philip Roth can’t dance. Besides, the Leafs franchise is not alone in overvaluing the physical aspects of the game.

But Kaberle’s offensive contributions to the club cannot be denied. He sits in pretty elite company with the Leafs: fifth in assists, second in points by a defenceman and 11th in points overall (just 17 points back of Rick Vaive). Impressive numbers to be sure.

In the end, I am saddened by Kaberle’s departure. Like so many Leaf greats before him I fear he will not be judged by the lens of his accomplishments or how he performed on the ice, but by the shortcomings of his team during his tenure. It’s unfortunate that the failures of management, especially their inability to surround players like Kaberle with the appropriate pieces to win, will colour how many evaluate his career as a Leaf. I do hope time corrects that viewpoint as it has for Sittler, Salming and Sundin.

After 13 years, 878 games, four all-star appearances, a gold and silver World Championship medal and an Olympic Bronze Tomas Kaberle departs the Leafs for the Boston Bruins.

I wish him nothing but success in the future and look forward to his return to the ACC where I hope he will be acknowledged, if not for his wonderful contributions to the Toronto Maple Leafs, for waiving his No Trade Clause and ensuring that this club has yet more prospects and more hope for the future.


  1. It's going to be a tough playoff this year, well at least now I have a team to cheer for. I hope the B's face-off against Mtl.

  2. Anonymous2:23 p.m.

    100% spot on, The biggest crime of all is what Ron Wilson did to him over the past couple of years. Too bad we couldn't trade Wilson to Dallas for Marc Crawford. Tomas should be remembered as one of the best leafs ever, at very least last 10 yrs, 10 yrs from now will we be able to say that about Phaneuf? Not likely. As a die hard leaf fan I'd like to wish Tomas the best, and I can honestly say that I hope he can help the Bruins win the cup, because the Leafs won't be playing for it anytime soon.

  3. Paul Steckley2:58 p.m.

    There are many things I'm going to miss about Kaberle, including the way he could pass the puck quickly out of the defensive zone, his saucer passes in the offensive zone, and the numerous times he came up big against the Habs. I won't miss his maddening habit of passing up prime shooting opportunities or his lack of physical play in front of his own net. Overall, though, Kaberle was a very good player for the Leafs and will be missed. I hope he wins the Cup, he deserves one.

    However, before we get all misty-eyed about his departure, let's see if he resigns with the Leafs on July 1st.

  4. @Anonymous - Crawford's a garbage coach.

    Great post Mike.

  5. Anonymous11:55 p.m.

    Kaberle was easily the most skilled player on the Leafs and the best since Salming. At least there's a team to cheer for now in the playoffs. The only thing that would turn this trade into a bonus is if he comes back to the Leafs as a free agent.

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