Saluting Tomas Kaberle

Saluting Tomas Kaberle

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After what has felt like a lifetime of speculation and rumours, the Toronto Maple Leafs officially pulled the trigger on a transaction that will see Tomas Kaberle, the longest serving member of the organization, on his way out of town.

By now you know that the Maple Leafs received prospect Joe Colborne, a first round pick, and a conditional second round pick from the Bruins in exchange for the services of Kaberle.

It’s a move that already has been held up to the light my many, in an attempt to evaluate the pros and cons from both angles.  The scrutiny will only intensify as Kaberle gets back into the playoffs with the Bruins, and the Maple Leafs use their picks received either as assets in another deal, or in drafting players at this year’s 2011 NHL entry draft.

And while we can debate as to who won the trade, what type of player Joe Colborne will become, and how much of an impact Tomas Kaberle will have with the Bruins down the stretch, there is one thing we cannot debate any further.

An era of the Toronto Maple Leafs is dead.

One can argue that the era was dead when Brian Burke officially put pen to paper, signing on to become the General Manager of the team.  The trade of Tomas Kaberle, however, signifies the end of an era, as Burke has virtually turned over the entire roster from the moment he got here.

Kaberle remained the lone link to the Maple Leafs taste of success, no matter how light and fleeting that taste may have been.  He was on this team during some of the best times, and was on this team through some of the worst times.  And through it all, handled it with grace and class that Toronto media and fans should consider themselves lucky to have been a part of.

Tomas Kaberle has represented us at the NHL All Star Game, even doing the Blue and White jersey proud by winning the accuracy competition in Atlanta a few years ago.  And what can be said about his overtime heroics?  Seemingly when the game was on the line, he found another level to go to.

Memories of a comeback in Buffalo several years ago will be etched in my mind, when Kaberle completed the tip-in to seal the deal for Toronto in overtime.

Memories post lockout haven’t been all that great, at least not from a team perspective.

Lost in the lost seasons and failed attempts at righting the ship that was perilously floundering among the harshest waves is the fact that from a personal standpoint, the play of Tomas Kaberle has been top notch since the league returned to action in 2005-2006.

He sits tied for second in points by a defenseman since the lockout.  The players above and around him?  Detroit’s super tandem of Nik Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski, which is pretty good company to say the least.

However, it always seemed as though personal success never mattered as much to Kaberle as the success of the entire team and organization.  A very low maintenance player, Kaberle would trade all the praise bestowed upon him for playoff appearances, and more consistency from the Toronto Maple Leafs, if that’s what it would take.

Even in the situation he was faced in the last few weeks, he continued to sacrifice personal issues for the greater good of the organization.  As he had one foot out the door, he was thinking about the Maple Leafs organization the whole time.

And while I won’t discuss the merits of whether or not players with no trade or movement clauses should waive, the fact that Kaberle chose to proves that not only does he want the personal success, but he wants to ensure that the Maple Leafs are taken care of as well.

And now he goes to Boston.  Beantown.  A team with a rich hockey tradition, and a team that has the chance to make some noise in the NHL playoffs this upcoming Spring.

And as Leafs fans we can only thank Tomas Kaberle.  Thank him for his years of service, and thank him for agreeing to facilitate this move to Boston.

Now Tomas, go think of yourself for once and win a Cup, will ya’?