Kaberle makes case for staying

GEORGE GROSS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:47 AM ET

The deep-rooted love affair between the current Maple Leafs hockey players and the City of Toronto is not restricted to captain Mats Sundin.

In fact, the affair sits just as strongly in defenceman Tomas Kaberle who, in my opinion, is the Leafs' second best player next to Sundin. I wrote some five years ago that Tomas reminded me of the great Doug Harvey of the Montreal Canadiens, with the way he carries the puck out of his own zone and passes it on to the stick of a teammate with the accuracy of an engineer.

Kaberle also feels like me about Toronto.

"I liked Toronto from the moment I signed my contract," Kaberle told me by phone from Florida. "I had a good feeling about the city from the start and about the hockey team. We have a good group of boys and an excellent captain in Mats. Also, I'm convinced that one day we'll bring the Stanley Cup back to Toronto."

I then asked Tomas if there was also some other reason he refused to give up the no-trade clause in his contract?

Kaberle whose brother, Frantisek, is a Carolina Hurricane and whose father, Frantisek Sr., was a star forward with the Czechoslovak national team and the Kladno club, said: "I wouldn't have felt right to leave the boys in the present (losing) situation. It wouldn't have been fair. I realize there is strong media pressure in Toronto, but I'd sooner play here with pressure than some place else where there is no pressure on the hockey team."

Sounds to me like words from a possible future Maple Leafs captain after the great Swede decides to retire.

HENDERSON NOT SATISFIED

Former Olympian and IOC member Paul Henderson fired off yet another salvo at the federal government's financial support of amateur sport in Canada. This time it was the donation to the Road To Excellence program of the Canadian Olympic Committee in response to the requested amount by double Olympic gold-medal winner, Alex Baumann.

"Baumann asked for $30 million annually," said Henderson, a former global sailing boss. "So, they give us $8 million for 2008-09, an additional $16 million for 09-10 and $24 million in 11-12. Heck, they gave the Vancouver Olympic event $25 million just for the torch relay and an additional $20 million for the opening and closing ceremonies, orchestrated by an Aussie, as if Canadians were incapable of producing the shows."

Mike Chambers, president of the Canadian Olympic Committee, then explained to Henderson that the government is contributing $8 million this year, followed by $16 million next year and then $24 million every year after that.

"Okay, Paul, can you now relax and start gathering a Bid Committee for the Pan Am Games?" I asked.

His reply: "Obviously, we should bid for the 2015 Pan American Games and then the Feds would support the repairs of all the older sports facilities and the building of new ones in Southern Ontario."

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