September 8, 2010
Kaberle drama amuses teammates
By LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency
Mike Komisarek had a humorous suggestion should the trials of the Kaberle family, Ron Wilson and Brian Burke take up any more air time this week.
"They should go on a soap opera," quipped the defenceman, who can't quite believe this is the talk of the town approaching the start of training camp.
Tomas Kaberle did his best on Wednesday to cut off the cheesey organ music before an off-camera announcer extorted viewers 'tune in tomorrow'. He made it clear that he's in control of both his fate and his relationship with coach Wilson -- not his well-meaning father, Frantisek.
"My father's opinion I can't control ... can you control your Dad?," Kaberle asked the media at the MasterCard Centre.
"I love my Dad (but) I don't agree with everything my father says. (He) can say whatever he wants, I will say my opinion, too. That's normal. And I don't agree with everything with my coach. But when you're losing, you get into some arguments."
In his first comments about Frantisek's shots at Wilson, the Leafs and Tomas' supposedly imminent trade request if Wilson remains here, the younger Kaberle said his father was just sticking up for him, though not in the manner his son approved. Frantisek, a respected player, coach and father of two NHLers, popped off to a Czech hockey magazine when the Leafs didn't trade Tomas as expected.
As the Leafs fell from the playoff hunt a fifth consecutive year, Wilson aimed some barbs Kaberle's way about soft performance in his own end. It's no secret the skill-oriented Kaberle simply can't play the "rough and crude" style that Wilson and general manager Burke want from the new-look Leafs, which has fueled Kaberle trade talk in two consecutive summers.
Then again, almost every team in the NHL has a Kaberle-type somewhere on the blueline. Kaberle's status as the second-highest scoring defenceman in club history next to Borje Salming can't be ignored.
"I will always play my style of game, that's why I was brought over here in my first year (1998)," Kaberle said. "It's always fit perfectly and if it doesn't, I will have to move on (waiving his no-trade clause)."
But Kaberle said he's going to accept Wilson's invitation -- and Burke's wish -- that they have a sit-down as soon as possible before training camp to settle the matter.
That meeting might have happened as early as Wednesday afternoon with Wilson dropping by the practice rink to watch the informal workouts.
"It's better for me and for the public also, to make it clear there is no issue," Kaberle said.
Burke made his feelings on the senior Kaberle known when the original story broke in the Czech Republic.
"We respect the parents of our players, but Frantisek Kaberle does not play for the Leafs," Burke said at the time. "And the coach isn't going anywhere."
Kaberle returns to a crowded blueline, with Toronto adding Brett Lebda and Matt Lashoff in the off-season, and while Dion Phaneuf could cut into some of his power-play time, Kaberle could be back in 50 to 60-point territory under the right circumstances.
As a player who had successfully avoided making himself the story for 12 years -- no mean feat in Leaf Nation -- Kaberle wants the whole matter to go away.
"I'm just looking forward to the first day of the season," Kaberle said.
"We have a shot (at playoffs) this year. I have a good feeling about this team. I'll do anything for this organization. They've been so good to me."
Wednesday was Kaberle's first appearance at the workouts and he paced himself by staying halfway through the 90-minute session.
Rather than be a heavy topic, Komisarek said there was a few jokes about the Kaberle situation thrown around the dressing room.
"We've got more pressing issues," Komisarek laughed.
So the sideshow is over -- at least until the Leafs' first three-game losing streak.