Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Kaberle out for season?

Welcome to life without Tomas Kaberle. Kubina, and others, might have to get used to it.

Kaberle, who is by far Toronto's best defenceman, is still suffering from the effects of a concussion suffered Friday night after a cheap-shot hit from New Jersey goon Cam Janssen. The club set a target goal of a week to 10 days for his return — a timeframe that Kaberle's agent, Rick Curran, immediately downplayed. But sources familiar with the situation have told the Post that Kaberle will not, in fact, return this season.

"He's done," one source told the Post.
If true, this would be an immense loss for the Maple Leafs — and all of a sudden the off-season acquisition of Pavel Kubina, until this point superfluous, is wholly necessary.

Tomas Kaberle is Toronto's best defenceman, skates in 26 minutes per game and was on pace for 62 points this season. He, more often than not, is the key to the team's breakouts, and a central figure on the power play. Offensively, he's definitely one of the Top 10 blueliners in the league, and probably among the Top 20 overall.

The Leafs average 3.30 goals for per 60 minutes when Kaberle's on the ice, and just 2.72 without him.

Most troubling, however, might be the fact that GM John Ferguson dealt away Brendan Bell at the trade deadline, leaving a hole now on the blueline that's going to have to be patched with a top six of McCabe/Kubina/Gill/White/Colaiacovo/Wozniewski.

And don't forget Wade Belak.

And given that the team which sneaks into the Eastern Conference playoff picture is likely going to need the equivalent of a 10-5-0 run to close the season, a second consecutive playoff miss seems probable.

Not that there's not a built-in excuse; I'm quite certain that Toronto is among the league leaders this season in man-games lost to injury.

As for Kaberle, maybe the biggest concern shouldn't be his return this season, but rather his status in the future. Here's my friend Pete Evans:
Goddamn Janssen. Kaberle's been an unheralded favourite of mine for years, and he's only starting to get the recognition he deserves. If that hit is the one that turns him into a concussion-prone shell of his former self, I want vengeance.
A sentiment we're hearing from a lot of Leafs fans today.

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At 12:28 PM, March 07, 2007, Blogger PPP said...

The civilized part of me realizes that there can be no winners with a tit-for-tat string of revenge. However, the other half of me wants to see Janssen caught with the cleanest and most devastating hit possible.

Paul Maurice hit the nail on the head that no punishment for Janssen would be equal. A lifetime suspension for him would barely equal the impact of losing Kaberle for one game.

Hopefully the boys can rally past their season-long battle with injuries and make the playoffs.

Pete is right in lamenting the possible effects of this brutal concussion.

At 12:46 PM, March 07, 2007, Anonymous David Johnson said...

No one knows how long a concussion recovery will take so it is a joke to try to predict how long he will be out. The NHL has strict rules on when a player can return from a concussion and that is until they have no more side effect. It could take 2 weeks, it could take 3 months. No one really knows.

I still can't believe that Janssen only got 3 games but I think the NHL shot themselves in the foot by not suspending Neil in the Drury incident. How could they not give Neil anything and yet give Janssen 6-8 games just because Janssen was a fraction of a second later on his hit.

As for needing to go 10-5-0 to make the playoffs, I am not convinced.

Toronto is 6 games above .500, Carolina 5, Rangers 5, Montreal 4, Boston 3. It seems a stretch to think that you will *have to* play the final 15 games 5 games above .500 when the teams in the race have only manage that level over 67 games. The Leafs can probably go 8-6-1 over their last 15 and have a good chance to make the playoffs.

At 12:48 PM, March 07, 2007, Anonymous pevans said...

To qualify concerns that I'm blindly out for blood (which I'm not) I should mention that my 'I want vengeance' statement was, in earlier drafts, followed by "I don't know specifically what, exactly, since ending janssen's career -- either through injury or suspension -- wouldn't right the wrong, but that would be an absolute travesty."

Sadly, that part was lost in Mirtle diligent editing process. He's one bitch of a copy editor.

At 1:02 PM, March 07, 2007, Blogger Jason said...

Elsewhere PPP posted a link to the Toronto Star in which Kaberle and JFJ deny this story.

At 1:05 PM, March 07, 2007, Blogger PPP said...

Pete, are you saying that Mirtle is a sensationalist? ;)

At 1:25 PM, March 07, 2007, Anonymous pevans said...

are you saying that Mirtle is a sensationalist?

Let's just say the original title for this post was "DARCY TUCKER EATS BABY SEALS" but I negotiated that out with him.

I'm just glad to see the words "Tomas Kaberle is Toronto's best defenceman" and "one of the Top 10 blueliners in the league" written and not have the author immediately be written off as a Bud-blue begoggled hammerhead.

At 1:29 PM, March 07, 2007, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Hold on — I didn't say he was one of the top 10 defencemen in the league!

As for the editing: I can't possibly use your entire email rants!

At 2:06 PM, March 07, 2007, Blogger PPP said...

Pete's clearly read into your piece as it's clearly written between the lines James.

At 4:54 PM, March 07, 2007, Blogger Desdemona said...

Toronto is among the league leaders this season in man-games lost to injury

Last night on the radio, they said that Toronto had lost 285 man games and are second only behind Chicago in the most man-games lost.


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