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By the way, where did Tomas Kaberle end up?

It’s funny.  Throughout last season, I posted a number of articles relating to the fate of now former Maple Leaf Tomas Kaberle.

We all know the Kaberle saga:  how the venerable, long-time Leaf defenseman was never “in favour” in the Wilson/Burke regime.  How they tried on various occasions to move him.  Potential deals fell through.  Then his “no-trade” clause would kick in and the Leafs could do nothing, again.

There was the usual, “I don’t ask players to waive their no-trade clauses” comment from Burke.  But there was also the annual trade-deadline back-room negotiation with Kaberle’s agent to see if Tomas was indeed willing to move.

Then in the summer of 2010, Tomas’ dad (click to read the story) got into the mix, suggesting Tomas and Wilson were not exactly close.

On and on it went.  The seldom-spoken (openly, at least) but unhealthy relationship didn’t help the Leafs, and didn’t help, in my view, Kaberle’s play on the ice.  I believe a player needs to feel truly wanted and appreciated to perform at his best.

Finally, the deal with the Bruins was finalized and gave Boston what they thought was the last piece of their playoff puzzle.  It didn’t turn out that way, as Kaberle’s impact on the Bruin power-play was minimal, and his role, as the playoffs progressed, was tiny as a 6th defenseman. He played less than 10 minutes in Game 7 of the Cup finals against Vancouver.

Yes, the Bruins won the Cup, and I was pulling for Kabby because I have a fondness for him and respected the way he conducted himself during his long tenure in a Maple Leaf uniform.  But I have a difficult time arguing he was an impact guy with the Bruins.  He simply wasn’t.  I’ll say he helped a bit, but that’s about all.

So the Bruins got a Cup (with a little help from Seguin, too) but it’s hard to argue that, long-term, the Kaberle deal looks anything but awfully good for the Leafs.

For all the angst I felt—because while Kaberle often frustrated me as a Leaf, I did admire the guy—it’s kind of ironic how things have turned out.

Some Leaf fans talked of Kabby returning as a free agent this past summer, but he was not a Wilson/Burke player, so that wasn’t going to happen, at any price, especially given his age, his history with Wilson and the perception that he was part of the (over-hyped, in my view) “blue and white disease”.

But the irony for me, is this:  as I was developing a story a couple of days ago, I had to sit back and ask myself, “Just where did Kaberle go this past summer?  Did anybody sign him?”

It took a while, but then I recalled that yes, indeed, he did get signed (Carolina, right?).  And he signed for a shockingly high price.  (Was it over 4 million a year for two years? That was very close to his contract with the Leafs, which was a good signing by Ferguson in the cap era.)

Wow.  I honestly thought that, after the playoffs, he would be lucky to get two million a season.  

But he is still a much-sought after “puck-moving defenseman”, so he found a home.  I just wonder if he will be like a pitcher past him prime, paid for what he was five years ago, but no longer.

In any event, I just find it amazing that I spent so much time last season contemplating the Kaberle “situation”, and months later, I could not remember where—or if—he even signed as a free-agent.

Time heals most sports wounds, I guess.


  1. I will forever have nothing negative to say about Tomas Kaberle. Why? He was a born and bred Leaf who, when his time was done here, brought us a nice return for his exit. I loved Sundin when he was here, but when he signed with Vancouver as a rental and brought us nothing, it taints his legacy.

  2. Never underestimate the gullibility of a Paul Maurice when it comes to ex-Leafs. I'm just amazed the Hurricanes haven't signed McCabe yet.

  3. With all the hype last year about what Kaberle was worth and the comments that we could not expect a first round pick for him I think that Burke done amazing with the talent he got for Kaberle. As far as I'm concerned the Leafs did not do bad on the Kessel trade and then to follow that up with the 3 players we got for Kaberle is just great for the Leafs and a real jump in building the team.

  4. 2 million? Way too cheap. If you go by previous free agent signings, Kaberle's contract is pretty much in-line. There were far worse signings than his 4.25 hit. Give me Kaberle over Jovanovski's 4 year deal (4.125) and Hamrlik (2 yr, 3.5) who are both over 35, Ehrhoff's ridiculous 10 year deal, and even Markov's 3 yr @5.75 deal given his injury history the past couple years. Kaberle didn't help himself with his uninspired play in Boston, but his past history was enough to command this salary range. I bet he could have commanded 5ish had his play in Boston been equal to his play as a Leaf - he just didn't 'fit'. I have no doubt Maurice pitched Carolina management to sign him, and he'll be a good fit there with all the former Leafs ;)

  5. I, too, have nothing bad to say about Kaberle. He and McCabe are the last great pair we had on D. In his prime, his ability to pinpoint pass the puck or effortlessly carry it out of our zone was a joy to watch. He was also a classy guy, who never complained.
    I don't think he was ever the same after that Janssen hit from behind. I also noted that no-one stood up for him, either. In the past two years, it seemed he'd lost a step or two and his passes weren't finding their mark - for whatever reason. And his unwillingness to shoot was frustrating, to be sure.
    His contribution to the Bruins' success may have less that anticipated, but he made some key plays nevertheless, and I enjoyed watching him and hoped he'd get a Cup.
    But it was the right time to trade him. Leafs did well by it, unlike the Sundin situation as Sean points out above, and TK got hockey's holy grail, so win-win all round.
    He's one of the ex-Leafs I'll follow and wish well. But I wouldn't want him back.

  6. Hogie, you make good points. I agree that, if he had played lights out in Boston, he would have commanded much more interest-and a lot more dollars.

    Thanks for the post.

    Overall, my sense is Leaf fans feel Burke did very well in that trade, and most of us will have only best wishes for Tomas as long as he plays. I agree with Sean and Gerund O that Tomas was a fine Leaf, and loyal, for sure.