Kabby not shabby

He may be gone now, but Tomas Kaberle was loyal whilst in the Blue and White. (Michael Peake/QMI...

He may be gone now, but Tomas Kaberle was loyal whilst in the Blue and White. (Michael Peake/QMI AGENCY)

MIKE ZESIBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:52 PM ET

TORONTO - On the day Tomas Kaberleís illustrious run as a Maple Leaf came to an end, callers on a local Toronto talk show were whining about Mats Sundinís refusal to waive his no movement clause almost three years ago.

Really, people?

Really?

The second-leading all-time scorer among Maple Leafs defencemen is finally moved and you are still bitching about something that happened in 2008?

Give it a rest.

Itís old news.

But, here in the so-called Centre of the Hockey Universe, itís not surprising.

Indeed, itís almost fitting that Sundinís name came up on an afternoon that should have been all about Tomas Kaberle. After all, neither was truly appreciated here.

Not Mats Sundin.

Not Tomas Kaberle.

Not in the way they should have been.

Whatever your opinion is regarding Sundin, he still is the leading scorer in franchise history. While there is credibility in criticizing him for holding back Torontoís future by not agreeing to be dealt, the Leafs were the ones who agreed to the terms of his contract.

If there is any fault here, put the blame on the organization for providing him with a no movement clause in the first place.

The same logic applies to Kaberle, who was ripped because he liked living in Toronto and did not want to leave.

As part of the now-famous 2007-08 Muskoka Five along with Sundin, Bryan McCabe, Darcy Tucker and Pavel Kubina, Kaberle understandably elicited the wrath of Leafs fans by refusing to budge after interim GM Cliff Fletcher had the pieces in place to send him to Philadelphia for forward Jeff Carter and a first-round pick.

Can you imagine Jeff Carter in a Leafs jersey?

Three years later, the Leafs obtain a first round selection, a conditional second rounder and prospect Joe Colborne for Kaberle.

Colborne could develop into a second-line player down the road. But is he another Carter? Scouts surveyed on Friday very much doubt it.

When you weigh the more lucrative Flyers-swap-that-wasnít of Ď08 versus this one, well, there are suitable grounds for those in Leafs Nation to hold a grudge against Kaberle.

But itís time to let it go.

Because when all is said and done, Tomas Kaberle did much more good than harm for the Toronto Maple Leafs organization over the years.

A raw rookie who was provided the opportunity to strut his stuff by Pat Quinn during the 1998-99 season, Tomas Kaberle went on to record 520 points in Leafs history, 11th on the teamís career scoring list and second among defencemen, only trailing Hall of Famer Borje Salming.

Why do you think the Boston Bruins were so eager to get him? Remember those perfect cross-ice feeds to fellow point man Bryan McCabe on the power play years ago, a combination that helped send McCabe to the 2006 Olympics as a reserve for Team Canada? How lethal will it be in Beantown when he starts feathering those same feeds to Zdeno Chara.

Sure, he has his weaknesses. He doesnít shoot enough. He looks moribund at times. And is defensive zone play can be ugly at times.

Speaking on the set of TSNís Off The Record on Friday night, former Flyer Keith Primeau chuckled when reminded that, during back-to-back playoff series against the Leafs in 2003 and í04, a part of Phillyís game plan for their gaggle of physical forecheckers was to dump the puck into Kaberleís corner and wallpaper him.

The Flyers did not win both series soley because they roughed up Kaberle. But it helped.

The fact that Salming is the only defenceman to register more points in a Leafs uniform shows that Kaberle, in fact, did his job better than most.

Of course, for the likes of Tomas Kaberle and Mats Sundin, it might take decades of fans in Toronto watching mediocre hockey before those two players receive the appreciation they so richly deserve from this town.

mike.zeisberger@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/zeisberger


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