There's something about Kaberle
But never mind all that. Let's talk about Tomas Kaberle.
Why do I want to talk about Tomas Kaberle? Because there is absolutely no reason to talk about Tomas Kaberle, which seems odd since the only thing anyone was talking about this summer was Tomas Kaberle.
The truth is, I am worried about the guy.
Last season, he finished with 7 goals and 42 assists in 82 games, which placed him second in scoring behind Phil Kessel. In four games this pre-season, he has managed only two assists, which ranks him 10th. Furthermore, two other defencemen – Dion Phaneuf and Francois Beauchemin – are ahead of him.
So right now, at this precise moment, Kaberle is not the Leafs top scoring rearguard and that also seems strange.
I know, I know.
Pre-season play doesn't mean squat. But beyond the points, possibly beyond even the ice, it's hard not to wonder about how Kaberle is feeling these days.
The official line from the team is everything is fine. There is no rift between Kaberle and coach Ron Wilson! That was all a big (bleep) misunderstanding caused by his father! Tomas is an important part of our team!
Fine. Good to know.
But if you're Kaberle, and you know the Leafs wanted to unload you the way a used car salesman wants to unload a 1970 AMC Gremlin, what long-term impact does that have on your play? At some point, don't you start to feel like the guy getting dressed for a party while staring at an invite that has another name scratched out?
There's no question Kaberle can help this team offensively.
When he takes the puck from behind his net, gracefully swoops toward the blue line like a swan on amphetamines and head-mans the puck to a rushing forward, he creates scoring chances. (Over at Pension Plan Puppets, Chemmy has a splendid frame-by-frame analysis of what I'm talking about. You can also see the video he's dissecting over here, starting at the 4:35 mark.)
Kaberle should benefit this season from playing on a team that is bigger and nastier and not inclined to let stuff like this pass without a riot. He should benefit from getting more room. He should benefit from playing on the power play with Phaneuf. And the young guys around him should benefit from Kaberle's experience in this fish bowl of a hockey town.
So the question becomes: How does Tomas Kaberle fit into this revamped team? And more important, does he spend too much time worrying about this?
PHOTO: CARLOS OSORIO/TORONTO STAR