Wednesday, August 18, 2010
When the Kaberle trade talks began, he had three years left on a quite affordable contract. Combine this with his unique skating ability and a great first pass. and you had a very marketable asset. When Brian Burke took over two years ago he immediately targeted the defenseman as a player to be traded for some key pieces to the Toronto Maple Leaf puzzle. His asking price was a big, young, forward who could score, and a high draft pick. At the time it sounded very reasonable.
So why is Tomas Kaberle still a Leaf. Part of the answer is Kaberle's no trade clause. The Leafs have a small window every off season in which they can trade him without restriction. The window opens after the entry draft and closes in the middle of August. The other proviso is the no-trade clause lifts only if the team fails to make the play-offs. Being that the team hasn't played post season since the lockout and never during Burke's tenure, they've had ample opportunity to trade him.
Since the day Burke took over, he's been touting the teams wealth of defenseman. He claims they'll be instrumental in bringing talented forwards in trades. So far Leafs fans have seen no sign of this. A Kaberle trade was his chance for redemption. So why no trade? Is it as simple as Burke's giant ego getting in the way? Maybe, maybe not. I can't help but wonder how things may have changed if Burke hadn't set Kaberle price openly in the media. I wonder still at how Burke arrived at the price he did for Kaberle. The market proved he wasn't worth the price last summer when he wasn't traded back then. This summer ten teams were in negotiation for him. Still not one of them came close to Burke's asking price. I think leaf fans and Brian Burke need to ask themselves. Was every NHL GM wrong in their evaluation of Tomas Kaberle, or was Burke's bullheadedness getting in the way. I think the answer is obvious.
The bottom line is Brian squandered another golden opportunity to improve The Toronto Maple Leafs. The team does have a wealth of quality defensman. What they desperately need is talent upfront and draft picks. Tomas Kaberle has been a loyal, honest and hard working player his entire career with The Leafs. His name has been dragged though the media for three complete season now. We are now in a position where we may lose him for nothing as a free agent. At best he may still be traded, but his value diminishes the longer it goes. It's not fair to him, his teammates, or the fans. The bottom line is, Brian Burke should have admitted he was wrong in setting Kaberle's worth. He should have taken the best deal on the table and made the trade, period.