Injury sacks power-play QB

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:33 AM ET

His job, arguably, is more to create offence than to defend, but it was the latter assignment that has taken down Tomas Kaberle.

The Maple Leafs revealed yesterday that the veteran defenceman will be out of the lineup for between three and four weeks after suffering a broken hand in the line of duty against the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night.

It is believed that Kaberle suffered the injury when he took a shot off the glove just prior to Ryan Smyth's disallowed goal in the third period. Kaberle did manage to finish the game, however.

The loss of the team's power-play QB was the most recent blow in this increasingly futile Leafs season and the latest in a frustrating run of injuries to defencemen.

"Kabby runs the power play, moves the puck better than most defencemen in the league," coach Ron Wilson said of the team's assist leader with 26. "So, obviously we are going to sorely miss him."

An even greater discussion point will be how Kaberle's loss plays out with respect to his future with the franchise.

Though the veteran Czech has a no-trade contract, he has been mentioned prominently as general manager Brian Burke's most valuable asset as the March 4 deadline approaches.

Kaberle helped fuel the talk when he admitted early in January that he would waive his no-trade clause if the team makes it clear he isn't a part of their future.

A handful of teams reportedly have expressed interest in the smooth-skating, puck-moving defenceman, but will they want him as badly if he is seen as damaged goods?

Currently in his 10th season with the Leafs, the durable Kaberle's consecutive games streak ended at 140.

To take Kaberle's spot on the roster, the Leafs recalled Anton Stralman from the Marlies for last night's game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Air Canada Centre.

Stralman, who has been up and down between the team's AHL affiliate, last night was making his 26th appearance with the Leafs.

"Hopefully, (Stralman) will have enough experience to take advantage of the situation," Wilson said of the young Swede. "Especially on the power play."

The Leafs just recently had defencemen Jeff Finger and Mike Van Ryn return from injury in the past week and were hoping to get some stability at the back end.


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