Raking Leafs

Mixing metaphors and casting cliches about hockey and the Maple Leafs for the ether's pleasure since MCMLXVII.



It has happened. In his eighth NHL season, Tomas Kaberle is getting the recognition he deserves.

I've been an advocate for a while. Even in the face of anti-Leafs' fervor raving 'he is over-exposed as a Maple Leaf and if he was stuck up here near Cold Lake nobody would think twice about his game.' Or 'he isn't really that good, McCabe makes him better, besides he is too soft.' Even out-right ignorance that 'he can't play defense.' Well, if you're just joining the party, even though it started during the lock-out when he won MVP of the Czech Extraliga, welcome. There is plenty of room. (and just for the record, the Poni party started last year too.)

I was tickled when earlier this month Jes picked up on Tomas' new penchant for puck firing. That was Tomas going from under-ground to indie hit.

But now he is getting regular airplay on your little sister's station. Ken Campbell of THN mentions Tomas Kaberle and the word 'Norris' in the same sentence. [via] I know, I had to sit down too. For an encore, Campbell lists the 72 defensemen drafted ahead of Kaberle in 1996. And the cherry;
Kaberle went 204th overall that year, 203 spots after Chris Phillips went first overall to the Ottawa Senators.
And all of this attention is well deserved. He served up the majority of McCabe's PP goals in 05-06 that landed McCabe an Olympic gig and a fatty contract. He finished top-5 in defense scoring on a team that couldn't play five-on-five hockey; no easy points when your wingers don't rush up the ice and score. And he did all that while anchoring the Czech blue line in Turino and taking almost $2m less mid-season because he wasn't interested in maxing out his salary.

In doing so, Kaberle enabled JFJ to sign fellow countryman Pavel Kubina in the off-season. I sometimes wonder if Kubina's name was invovled in Kaberle's negotiations, because that is the kind of conspiracy theory I want to believe. And speaking of theories, for those who think Steen was the deal breaker of the talked about Pronger deal this past summer, I beg to differ. Giving away Kaberle would've been the real tragedy of such a deal.

I"m such a believer in this tremendously gifted athlete, I've given him a dumb name; Clutchosity. Laugh if you must, but he is one of the best candidates in the NHL for a man-crush, so I have no shame. I even recommend his sweater as a gift choice for hockey fans when asked by non-hockey fans. No joke.

So maybe after this year, I can call him by a new nickname.

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  • At 7:43 PM, Blogger Wardo said…

    It's nice, I guess, that Kaberle developed into a front-line player after being drafted so late.

    But I don't understand why a lot of people point to this as some kind of failing by the other teams who picked other defensemen. Toronto themselves didn't select him until their 13th pick!

    This is clear-cut case of Toronto getting shit-lucky.

    Not that there is anything wrong with it. You need to be lucky to be good.

    And not that you made this suggestion in this post...but it is false to attribute some kind of brilliant drafting acumen to Toronto for picking Kaberle, and it is also wrong to fault other teams for not doing it either.


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