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How long can Boston go with Kaberle?

Those who have been following Boston’s move into the semi-finals have no doubt noticed that they have accomplished this without a significant contribution from former long-time Maple Leaf defenseman Tomas Kaberle.

I’ve often mentioned here that as frustrating a performer as Tomas was for the blue and white over his 13 or so years, I respected his contributions here and was, in short, fond of him.  He did nothing to embarrass the organization and didn’t complain through some tough years.

I had hoped he would do well in Boston and show his value with a team that appreciated him more than the current Leaf coaching staff and management had.

But he has disappointed even his biggest supporters.  He is uncertain on the ice most of the time.  The playoff-intensity style of game seems awfully fast for him, and maybe it is.  He last played in the playoffs in the spring in 2004, when he was 25 years of age.

Now, Boston coach Claude Julien is seemingly trying to protect Kaberle with minor minutes, and even that is not enough to prevent the disaster that occurred in Game 1 against Tampa Bay, when a rookie-like Kaberle error led directly to a key Tampa goal.

I wrote before the Flyer series (click to see the story) that I could see Kaberle being benched, and even before that, I questioned how his legacy would unfold if he did not step up when he had the chance to shine with a good club at playoff time.

Now, I really wonder if the Bruins can afford to keep running him out there now against a fast, decisive Tampa side.  He looks like a shadow of his former self.  His critics, I know, will point out that he is simply playing as he did with the Leafs, but that’s only partly accurate.

He was an elite-level passer, could skate away from trouble and find the open man.  Yes, he was never strong or physical-enough in his own zone and generally ineffective in front of his own net, but he compensated with his skating, vision and ability to headman the puck. (I mean, nine times the guy earned more than 30 assists for the Leafs.  Yes, his plus/minus had worsened in the Wilson era, but that was also when the team was weakened overall and the goaltending was sub-par.)  he wasn't grwat on the power play, though he was better in that regard in the Quinn years, playing alongside McCabe.

Analysts are wondering what kind of free-agent contract he can get after the way he has played for the Bruins so far. 

As a Kabby fan, unless he starts to play like he can—or used to—(and I hope he does) I wonder if he will get a job, period.


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