Cold Case Files: The Tomas Kaberle Story

Brandon Warnes@@bwarnesCorrespondent IJanuary 7, 2011

PITTSBURGH - OCTOBER 13:  Tomas Kaberle #15 of the Toronto Maple Leafs waits for a face off against the Pittsburgh Penguins on October 13, 2010 at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Tomas Kaberle has enjoyed a nice career in Toronto, playing in his 12th season with the team. He's been a fan favourite for many years and has appeared in all-star games because of that. Why, though, has he wanted to stay for so long when the team isn't improving or when the team is trying to push him out?

If I were going to a poker tournament, I surely would not want to play against Kaberle. He keeps his cards close to his chest and you wouldn't be able to tell how he feels by just looking at his face.

Since the lockout, he's had pretty decent numbers and hasn't missed long amounts of time with injuries. In the 377 games he's played since then he's had 39 goals and 258 assists. While his own numbers have been good, the same cannot be said for his team.

The Maple Leafs haven't made the postseason since 2004, and haven't shown many positive signs of being close to making them. You can argue that improvements haven't been made to fix this issue—ship out old guys not performing, bring in new guys who still can't push the team to the playoffs.

So why has Kaberle stayed for so long and not taken his talents to a cup contender? You have to like the loyalty of sticking with the team that drafted you but eventually it looks like you're being clingy. It's like in a relationship when you stick with your partner and hope things change. There's promise of change and for a while it appears things have improved, but at the end of the day your partner still lies and cheats.

Maybe the Maple Leafs haven't lied and cheated on Kaberle, but they have tried to ship him out and move on. It seems like every year since the lockout Kaberle's name has been involved in trade rumours. There appears to be interest from different teams but at the end of the day Kaberle still doesn't waive his no trade clause.

Aside from the deal that almost happened (PHI: Carter and a first round pick for TOR: Kaberle) we've never really known just how close a deal has been.

It's one thing for one GM to try and move you, but when you have another one trying it you must get the message you're not needed or wanted anymore. Kaberle has remained one of their best trade pieces each season but a deal still can't be worked out.

Then there was the whole thing last summer about Kaberle's father saying his son doesn't want to play for Ron Wilson anymore. Again the trade rumours started, yet Kaberle remained with the blue and white.

They apparently talked through their issues before the season began, but if Kaberle didn't want to play for Wilson, he had complete control of his situation and could have left.

You then have to look at why a deal hasn't been completed, aside from the no-movement clause. Brian Burke's asking price may be the No. 1 reason, apart from the no-trade clause, that has stopped a deal from happening. Burke doesn't publicly say what he is looking for or which players he's been given in return, he just says that what he has received is not at all market value.

Burke may be trying to help justify the Kessel trade in which he lost two first round picks. Along with a prospect or roster player, he is probably seeking a first round pick in return. What is market value for Kaberle these days? It seems like unless your name is Chris Pronger, you shouldn't expect to receive a big package of picks, prospects or roster players in return.

There was the one deal with Philadelphia that never happened (see above), but if you're trying to move the same guy each season you can't expect that kind of return. I feel the most you could get for him now is for a roster player straight up and maybe a prospect. The other less likely outcome would be for a prospect and a late first round pick or a second rounder.

What We Know

There is interest for Kaberle: It might not be what Burke is looking for, but it is there.

Kaberle wants to stay and retire with Toronto: He's said a few times staying with the team that drafted you rarely happens these days and he doesn't want to leave the city.

What We Don't Know

Just how much interest is there for Kaberle?  His name always pops up in the headlines but are there a number of teams interested or just a few?

Burke's asking price: The lack of a deal most likely shows he's asking too much, but he still hasn't outright told us what those terms are.

What Only Kaberle Knows:

How much he enjoys his time here: Constant media scrums and hearing your name in trade rumours surely has to bug you at some point.

Will he re-up with the team at season's end? His deal is over after this season but do you want to stick with a team that has tried to move you every year?

The rumour mill is always turning in Toronto and Kaberle's name will continue to pop up until a deal is done or until the season is over. If nothing happens, it's looking more and more likely that he will walk at season's end or at least test the free-agent market to see how much interest he garners. In any case, we will all be watching to see how this is resolved and it shouldn't be anything short of interesting.


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