Editor's Note: The following is a translation of an article written on a Czech website by Blurr's friend Romdgpce who was kind enough to help out. Be sure to thank him. I tried to edit it for readability so any errors are my own. If you can read Czech you can find the original article by Jan Vacek on Hokej.cz. Maybe the family problems that Damien Cox obliquely referenced without providing any sort of proof was that Frantisek hates the Leafs and Tomas does not.
It seemed for a long time that last season, after years filled with speculation, that Tomas Kaberle would be traded from Toronto to another NHL club . Maple Leafs General Manager Brian Burke could deal the Czech national team's defender at his discretion when the Czech defender's no-trade clause expired in late June. There was great interest in the thirty-two year old player, however, the Canadian club did not find any of their offers of interest. Kaberele will therefore continue to wear the blue and white. "To be honest, I do not understand this step," Frantisek Kaberle senior said in an interview with www.hokej.cz.
Toronto has just gone through another failed season in the [NLH]. The best earning organization in the NHL, which has the support of up to twenty million supporters worldwide, failed once again to work their way into the playoffs for the fifth time in a row. The main problem was obvious for the Maple Leafs - poor productivity. Coach Ron Wilson managed in the regular season to secure just 214 goals, which still isn't even the worst amount since the 1997/1998 season. Even as such, Tomas Kaberle was expected to leave the famous club in the summer.
Toronto general manager Brian Burke announced ahead of time that he would like to obtain an offensive superstar for the Czech national team player in order to help the talented Phil Kessel in overcoming the withering offense. Toronto received several offers during the summer months none of which satisfied the Canadian superclub. The thirty-two year old defenceman will don the Maple Leafs jersey again next season after which his contract will expire and he will become an unrestricted free agent.
The possibility of moving Tomas Kaberle from Toronto has already been discussed for many years now and it was generally expected to happen just after the end of last year. "I have to admit that I expected it a bit too. I really don't understand Tomas staying on in Toronto," said Frantisek Kaberle senior, shaking his head. The native of Rakovnik, the Czech Republic, last year racked up a total of forty-nine points, and was one of the most valued defenders on the team.
Yet, Frantisek Kaberle senior does not fully embrace his son remaining on the Canadian team. "I can't imagine how it will be to get along with Ron Wilson, who relies primarily on aggression and stress. And that's not Tomas, he is a technical type of defender," he said. Despite the fact of earning an excellent reputation over the course of eleven seasons in the NHL, he can get less ice-time in the following year.
The reasons are obvious. Toronto boasts a defensive corps of excellent and well-paid defenders. Brian Burke currently has eight defencemen under contract, whose total annual income is an astronomical 27 million dollars. "Moreover, it is common practice in the NHL that teams play with six defenders in the vast majority of cases. Two excellent and above all well-paid defenders will not play the whole game themselves," pointed out Frantisek Kaberle senior. However, it is possible for the Canadian club to make changes to its rearguard by the start of next season. The defensive rebuild began last summer with Brian Burke bringing in Francois Beauchemin from Anaheim.
Another new addition was the emphatic Mike Komisarek with which the Maple Leafs entered into a three-year contract, allowing the former Montreal blueliner to earn 4.5 million per year. Then, during the course of the regular season last year, a blockbuster trade with Calgary brought in all-star Dion Phaneuf, who was appointed team captain several months later after the departure of former club captain Mats Sundin. The Canadian defenseman, with an annual income of 6.5 million dollars, is also the best paid player in the club. The Maple Leafs also have Jeff Finger (3.5 million), Luke Schenn (2.975 million), Brett Lebda (1.45 million) and the talented Carl Gunnarsson (0.8 million) on their defensive line.
Toronto have found their defensive lines to be too tight. The Maple Leafs have been having trouble offensively and therefore it was assumed that Burke would exchange Kaberle for a skillful sniper. The overseas media (Editor's Note: in this case, the local mittenstringers) speculated that either Mike Ribeiro from Dallas, Ryan Malone of Tampa Bay, or Boston's Marc Savard were possibly in the running. "We have information that Malone will later be a problem with the salary cap. Contracts with Steven Stamkos and Simon Gagne are expiring and a new contract with Martin St. Louis is in the works. In two years even Victor Hedman will be without a contract," said Kaberle senior.
Boston's Marc Savard has the reputation of having a fantastic record. Toronto would be significantly helped by his offense. "The problem is his health. He suffered a concussion last season and there is the possibility of a similar blow to his head and it could even end up as finishing his hockey career. In this regard, such a trade for Toronto would have been very risky, " said Kaberle senior. However, no exchange took place and the experienced defenseman will spend the last year of his contract with his beloved club. "I think that Tomas won't even comment on it anymore. He is content in Toronto with both the club and the city. I still think though that some change would be welcomed," he added.
The participant in this year's Olympic Games in Vancouver has repeatedly been heard saying that he would like to go for the famous Stanley Cup (Editor's Note: Does his refusal to waive is NTC back that up? Not really...). He has only gotten to the conference finals so far in Toronto. It is hard to say how the changes that occurred in the summer will reshape the Maple Leafs in the following year. While Burke talks about at least making the playoffs, overseas experts are however skeptical. "Thanks to Tomas, I have been following Toronto for a long time. I didn't believe it much in the beginning, but it seems that the best players don't want to go to this club. The reason is because of the huge pressure from the fans, and especially the media. Not every hockey player is able to deal with it (Editor's Note: wah wah wah)," says Tomas' father.
A lack of offense will certainly be the main weakness of the Candian club. "Toronto is still unable to replace Sundin. Phil Kessel, however talented, is still not enough. However during the summer Brian Burke brought Colby Armstrong from Atlanta and Kris Versteeg from Chicago to the club, who will definitely contribute. But I am not convinced that it will be enough for the Maple Leafs to compete with the best clubs in the Eastern Conference," reminds Frantisek Kaberle, of the overwhelming force of Washington and Pittsburgh.
"If it is only about defense, then they certainly have no problem there. They should be able to draw on the reliable work of the talented Jonas Gustavsson, who in his first reason in the NHL was trying to find his bearings. Certainly he should get more time in goal than Giguere whose performance does not correspond to him getting six million a year," he adds.
If during the upcoming season nothing major happens, and it happens that Tomas Kaberle will be a free unrestricted agent and could agree to any contract with any elite overseas competitor. However, his father doesn't predict such a thing happening. "I think that during the course of the year he will be traded to another club. There is just only one chance for Toronto, how to get something back in return for Tomas. In my opinion, I can't see Tomas entering a new contract with the club. No, not if Ron Wilson will continue to be employed in the future," says Kaberle senior.
We are happy that Tomas is staying on the team, his teammates said of him.
His current teammates on the celebrated team acknowledged that the thirty-two year old will continue to play for Toronto. "I've been lucky enough to be defence partners with him. He's such a good player out there, he's smart and controls the game, he's great on the power play and is one of the top defencemen in the league," the talented defenceman Luke Schenn, who the Maple Leafs drafted during the first round in 2008, told the Canadian television network TSN.
The experienced Mike Komisarek welcomes competition for a spot on the blueline. "Guys are going to be pushing each other and guys are going to be fighting for spots. So something good comes out of that. Business is business. Guys get moved and it's part of what we do. Our GM is trying to put the best possible team out there and obviously we couldn't get the value that we wanted for Kabby so we're happy to have him back," said the twenty-eight year old native from West Islip.
Even the talented Nazem Kadri, who went through the draft process last year, rushed out with praise for the Czech representative. "Tomas is one of the best defensemen in the entire league. We will be a stronger team next year due to the fact that we managed to keep him, I am convinced of this," said the former London and Kitchener sniper from the AHL.
Brian Burke indicated during an interview on Tuesday with the Ottawa Sun that he has plans to open negotiations on a new contract with Kaberle's agent Rick Curran although no-one dares to guess at any developments. Should they not reach an agreement within the first half of 2010-2011, Burke will look towards trading Kaberle to another club during the winter trade season