Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Shiv on 02/19/11 at 01:02 PM ET
Less than 24 hours after the Toronto Maple Leafs finally traded Tomas Kaberle, Number 15 found himself wearing Number 12 in the Boston Bruins’ line up. Number 15 is retired in TD Garden, you see. Hall of Famer Milt Schmidt wore it while winning 4 Stanley Cups and a Hart Trophy with the Bruins.
But the number wasn’t the only thing that was eerily unfamiliar.
Kaberle found himself in a game between the Boston Bruins and the Ottawa Senators, two bitter division rivals he had battled against since 1998.
This time, though, he wasn’t wearing the Blue and White jersey with the Maple Leaf crest in the middle. Black and Yellow were now his colors.
The longest-serving current Leaf was traded yesterday for Joe Colborne, Boston’s 1st in 2011 and a conditional 2nd.
Leaf Nation has been ecstatic with the return. So much so, that they have forgotten the respect servitude and loyalty deserve.
But Kaberle deserves a proper goodbye.
He was drafted 204th Overall in the 8th Round of the 1996 NHL draft. He was a Maple Leaf when the NHL had only 26 teams in the league.
Kaberle put up 22 points in 57 games as a rookie. His teammates included Mats Sundin, Sergei Berezin, Steve Thomas, Steve Sullivan, Bryan Berard, Fredrik Modin and Curtis Joseph in an era that now seems ancient. He was the only Leaf still standing from that team.
In a way, the history of the Toronto Maple Leafs over the past 12 seasons can be charted through Kaberle’s career.
He was there when the Leafs repeatedly beat the Ottawa Senators in the playoffs.
He was there when the Leafs made it to 2 Eastern Conference Finals, losing to the Sabres in the first and the Hurricanes in the second.
He was there to set up Bryan McCabe for one-timers in the 2005-2006 season.
He was there when Mats Sundin scored his hat-trick, overtime, shorthanded, game-winning, 500th goal against the Calgary Flames.
He was there when the Leafs tumbled after the Lockout.
He was there while Leaf Nation clamored for him to be traded for 3 seasons.
He was butchered for wanting to right the sinking ship instead of jumping off deck.
Kaberle may have been finally traded, but he never wanted to go out this way. If it were up to him, he would have stayed in Toronto his entire career.
The quiet, modest blueliner was one of the best Leafs to ever lace them up. He ranks 2nd All-Time in scoring among Maple Leafs’ defensemen with 520 points in 879 games.
He may be going to Boston, but Leaf Nation wishes him nothing but the best.
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