Saturday, June 4, 2011

*Why Tomas Kaberle Hates Money


    Tomas Kaberle's playoff goatee looks like it belongs on a greasy carney magician. Fitting because he's actually pulled off a pretty sloppy magic trick of his own: He's making three plus million dollars disappear from next year's contract! Ta-daaa! 

    Hockey karma manifested itself all over Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli's face when he gave up a first round pick and top prospect Joe Colborne in an attempt to bolster the B's powerplay with the pass-happy Czech. Boston's powerplay percentage has literally been cut in half since Kaberle's arrival on the team, and that struggling aspect of their game could prove to be their undoing in this Stanley Cup final. Suddenly the Phil Kessel fleecing is not quite as painful.

    On paper the pairing of Kaberle and Chara on the PP was a match made in heaven. Chara has the hardest shot in the league, and Kabby has a no-shot clause in his contract. But here we are in the middle of the Cup finals and Chara is trying to do his best Dustin Byfuglien impression in the blue ice in front of Bobby Lu. Something seems terribly wrong about that. 

    Granted, it isn't Tomas Kaberle's fault that the hulking Milan Lucic has played like a pussy cat all through the playoffs and can't do that duty himself. One would think however that the absence of Chara from the blue line might allow Kaberle a little more space and opportunity, but whatever the case may be he is not capitalizing in the slightest.

    In a perfect scenario Kaberle and the Bruins could still pull out a series win and take home the cup, but as his contract runs out can anyone reasonably expect Boston to re-sign him based on his performance in Beantown? 

    Kabby has shown all the hallmark signs of a player in decline. His skating and decision making have both begun to slow down, and it seems evident that he'll have to start readjusting his style of play if he wants to continue to be employed in the NHL. He's not played himself out of the league, he has too much Toronto clout for that, but he has certainly played himself out of a contract anywhere near the 4.25 million dollars he's earning now. He can kiss that no-movement clause goodbye as well.

    After considering all he has at stake, we have to wonder just what is it that went wrong for Tomas Kaberle? Is his heart still in Toronto?The last time we saw him playing meaningful hockey was the year before the lockout, when the 100-point Leafs were ousted in the second round, and Kaberle was one of the most solid players on that squad. He had a track record of playing well in the playoffs for Toronto, so why has this experience in Boston been so difficult for him? 

    It will be interesting to see where Kaberle's career takes him after this, whether he can rebound, and whether he can fit in on a team not called the Maple Leafs. If he can regain form he could wind up being a home run signing for a lucky GM, but I would suspect a deal like that to be in the short term. No one is going to commit four to five years to an aging creampuff whose only trademark is a quickly eroding ability to pass. Regardless, he will forever be an enigma. The most over-rated under-rated player the league has ever seen, and potentially the most irrelevant player to ever win a cup.