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Tomas Kaberle: If your Dad’s not happy, you’re not happy

Earlier in the week, I posted on Kaberle far more than I had intended. Recognizing that people are at best bored and quite likely annoyed at reading yet more stories about the Leafs’ favorite whipping-boy, I declined to comment further when certain hard-to-miss statements from his Dad first appeared.  (Courtesy, if I understand correctly, of the popular Leaf-oriented blog "Pension Plan Puppets" publicizing a translation of the original interview with Kaberle Sr..)

As the mainstream media has since circulated the story, everyone who cares now knows what appears to be "the real story" of the relationship between Kaberle and the organization.  And it is abundantly clear that this is a situation just begging for a resolution.

With Tomas’ Dad speaking out (and you wonder if he’s ticked that his Dad is saying things, or actually happy that the real story is being told from the Kaberle point of view?), it dispels the thought that this was all just some kind of misunderstanding. That is, that the Leaf brass—and coaching staff—love having Tomas around and were only “open” to listening to trade offers but really didn’t want to move him.

Clearly, as I have posted for quite some time, they want to send him packing, and would have preferred to do so more than a year ago. Yet, for reasons few of us understand, he’s still here.

Which, as I’ve also said many times, would be just fine if it was truly the case that they are happy with him, he’s happy with the coach, and all is well.

But it’s not. It can’t be, not when your name is in the paper every day and the talk is never about the team, or that you’re playing well, or that you’re appreciated in this market. And most importantly, it can’t be fine when it has been patently clear for 18 months—maybe longer, that the team wants to move the guy.

Listen, we all have our views on Kaberle. Me, I feel he had his best years under Quinn, who played him as an inexperienced kid. Quinn largely let him have his head, helped him grow as a player and a person. By all accounts he is a good guy and a good teammate. He’s a fine first-pass defenseman—better than most—and has been in on some big offensive plays for Toronto during their playoff years.

Most of us can also agree that, while he is not horrible in his own zone, that’s not his calling card. But again, he can lug the puck out or pass it up, and those are qualities most teams dearly want.

So now Dad jumps into the fray, and, just in case we didn’t know for sure, throws gas on the Wilson-Tomas fire. This generally doesn’t go over too well when your kid is thirteen. So I’m not sure where this is going, but unless it leads to (another?) private conversation between the parties involved and a true, mutual belief that Wilson and Kaberle are united, supportive of one another and on the same page, Kaberle needs to go—for his own good, and that of the team.

Even his Dad is saying out loud what we are all thinking: why does his son want to play in T.O. when the organization so obviously would rather he not?

I believe Tomas has, health-permitting, good seasons left. He has not had an injury-filled career and seemingly hasn’t (easy for me to say, I realize, I’m not out on the ice getting hammered) taken the physical pounding that some rearguards do. At his age, he still has his legs and can still skate, make plays, etc.

A part of me would love a happy ending, as I would have with Sundin. You know, Tomas retiring as a Leaf. We don’t get that kind of thing very often in these parts.

But Kaberle doesn’t seem destined to see that happen, so he could/should, as some have suggested, give the Leafs a list of teams he’d be prepared to play for, and say, “please, for all of us, let’s get this done before opening night”.

An artificial, self-imposed deadline, yes—but not an angry, contentious. Just, as is often the case in life, a mutual understanding that the relationship is broken and cannot be repaired or made whole again.

And the only way for everyone to be happy again is to move on—apart.

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