Count Jarome Iginla as a big fan of the Tomas Kaberle deal.
As the rest of the hockey world debates the relative merits of the most anticipated trade since Brad Pitt swapped Aniston for Angelina, the Flames captain chimed in with his thoughts.
“Just glad he stayed in the east,” smiled Iginla before facing the longtime Leafs defenceman last night.
So too is Kaberle and the rest of the Boston Bruins, even if he does come with a lot of baggage. Literally.
“I’ve got a lot of luggage with me,” smiled Kaberle, who has yet to touch down in Boston as a Bruin given the team’s current road trip.
“Hopefully when I get back to Boston, I can settle in. The guys have been great. First day in Ottawa I got there half an hour before the game and they were nice to me and answered questions and so far so good. You never know what’s going to happen in the future. But I just want to fit in right now and I’ll make the best from my side and hopefully it will work out for both sides.”
While Brian Burke’s waiting game eventually paid off in spades for a pending UFA who has appeared disinterested most of the season in Toronto, whether the Bruins fared well in the swap depends on his playoff performance and whether he re-signs with the club this summer.
Two games in as a Bruin it appears everyone is happy with the arrangement as the Bruins get that puck-moving, powerplay quarterback they’ve been missing and he gets to play for the team he handpicked as his only possible destination.
“I felt like if I go somewhere, I want to go to a team with a chance to win a Stanley Cup,” said Kaberle when asked why he told Burke he’d only go to Boston.
“I’ve played against them a lot so you get to see they’ve got a great team: Great goaltenders, Great defence and forwards who can put the puck in,” he said.
Oh, and he wanted to stay in the east.
“I know the teams (in the east) and it’s probably a little easier for me,” said Kaberle, 32, who played alongside Dennis Seidenberg all night.
“Hopefully we’ll get more comfortable with each other.”
Leafs fans appear comfortable the 12-year soap opera with Kaberle is over, especially given the return that saw a first rounder, Calgary’s Joe Colborne and a conditional second-rounder headed to Hogtown.
The Bruins are content now that they have the one thing they feel they’ve been missing the last few years - aside from a Cup that is.
“We’ve been talking about it for most of the year — we wanted to get a good puck-moving defenceman,” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien, who will go to sleep at night dreaming of Kaberle setting Zdeno Chara up for the one-timer every team fears.
“One of those elite guys we didn’t have. Now we do. He moves the puck, sees the ice so well… It’s about taking advantage of his qualities.”
Asked how long he’d pursued Kaberle, GM Peter Chiarelli smiled and suggested we simply “check the press clippings.”
When told the rumours had been flying for years, he smiled.
“Well, there’s your answer.”
Not that he was their only choice.
“We asked ourselves if we should wait and try to get him at a lower price, but nothing is guaranteed,” he said.
“Burkie or Tomas could change their minds or he could get hurt. There’s there’s something to say about getting the deal done, getting him on this road trip and moving forward.”
Moving forward is exactly what Kaberle is focused on, too.
“My name has been mentioned the last few years and I’ve just tried to focus on hockey games,” said Kaberle, rarely one to shed insight.
“This time it happened. Sad on one part, but on the other hand it’s another challenge for me. I’m happy with the Boston Bruins and it’s a great team and great organization and now I’m looking forward to that.”
So is Milan Lucic.
“It’s definitely exciting when management puts this sort of team together and they’re serious about making that next step and being a contender,” said the feisty winger.
“As a player you have to take that as a challenge and try to make them look good.”
After years of playoff strife, expectations have been raised in Beantown. Something Kaberle knows all too much about.
Eric Francis appears regularly as a panelist on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada