Toronto Maple Leafs fans woke up Monday morning eagerly anticipating the news of whether or not Tomas Kaberle had been traded at the last minute by GM Brian Burke. Most were disappointed to read that he in fact was still a member of the team, after Burke did not receive an offer he felt suitable for the puck-moving defenseman.
At 12:00 AM Sunday night his no-trade clause officially kicked back in, which many feel means Kaberle's chances of getting traded dropped significantly.
Unless, of course he wants to.
After almost two years of trade rumours swirling, offers being looked at, and his GM stating many times that if the right deal was in place, Kaberle would be leaving town, the question remains as to whether he would even want to remain a member of the Leafs.
Why would he?
Sure, he's the longest standing member of the team at the moment as he has played all of his 11 seasons in the NHL wearing the blue and white (820 games) and his 482 points are second all-time for defensive scoring on the Leafs.
He's been nothing but consistent throughout his entire career, building a reputation as one of the best puck handlers and movers in the league, as well as showing great speed and a knack for making pin-point passes to spring forwards on the break. He's also a solid quarterback on the power play, who has made a career of setting up guys like Brian McCabe with pillow-like passes on the point.
He is one of the rare high-paid defenders in the league who is worth every penny of what he's paid, and is deserving of Burke wanting nothing but sufficient value in return for him.
He’s done everything in this city without complaining once, through what is now the longest Stanley Cup drought in the NHL, maintaining all the while he would still love to stay here and help this team turn the corner.
But after this summer of everyone and their brother commenting on all the places Kaberle will end up, except Toronto, we might just suddenly find out that after stating multiple times how much he really does want to stay a member of the Maple Leafs, he might not want to anymore.
With the no-trade in place Kaberle would have to agree to lift it in order for a trade involving him to go through. If Burke can find a team who is willing to give him what he wants, as well as a team Kaberle would want to go to, then there is no doubt the long-time Leaf will pack his stuff and get the first plane out of town.
He’s handled all the media attention and questions this offseason gracefully and professionally, never once losing his temper or snapping back. He’s simply professed his love for the team he wants to play for.
The only problem is the team he wants to play for has clearly shown they think they’d be better off without him for the past two seasons. Sooner or later, someone is going to come along and offer Kaberle and the Leafs a deal they just can’t turn down, and the Czech defender will walk out of town with his head held high.
He’ll be waving goodbye to the only team he's ever known, home to countless memories and playoff runs in the early 2000's. Gone would be the media frenzy that he's so used to, and the love-hate relationship Leaf Nation has with him, and the ups and downs of being on the Maple Leafs. He would be leaving his home in Toronto to move on to the next chapter in his life.
And after an offseason of uncertainty, questions and rumours, that might be exactly what he wants.
No-trade clause or not, Kaberle could still be as good as gone.