When it comes to summertime trade rumors, the gift that keeps on giving the last couple of years has been Maple Leafs defenseman Tomas Kaberle. Even in spite of having a no-trade clause, Kaberle would manage to end up in idle chatter about being traded. When Kaberle’s no-trade clause opened up on July 1st, it seemed highly likely that the star blue liner was destined to be dealt and freeing the Maple Leafs of the final year of his $4.25 million salary. With the trade market being down and with interested teams not having much in the way of salary mobility, Kaberle has stayed a Maple Leaf and with his no-trade clause going back into effect on Sunday, Kaberle’s agent Rick Curran is getting a bit frustrated with the situation as Yahoo’s Nicholas Cotsonika details.
“The only thing that Tomas gets upset about is this,” Curran said. “For anyone who knows him, he’s a very quiet, laid-back, conservative young man. He has made it very clear what his intentions are. He wants to stay in Toronto. He recognizes that he’s a chattel, that he can be moved. If that’s the case, then move him.
“What he does not appreciate, what he does not enjoy, is being front-page topic of conversation every time Brian decides that he’s got to churn the waters a little bit in order to create a little interest.
“That’s fine. Pick up the phone and call your general manager colleagues. Talk to them about it. But don’t make him front-page news. He didn’t ask for it. He realizes that it’s part of it, of being a Toronto Maple Leaf, but don’t ask him to sit back and enjoy it.”
Yikes, them’s fightin’ words if I’ve ever read them. Obviously Leafs GM Brian Burke is familiar with fighting words and returned fire of his own. Cotsonika continues:
Burke seemed taken aback by Curran’s comments. He said Curran did not bring up these concerns when they spoke Monday. (Curran said he appreciated that Burke called Monday to give him an update. He said it was the first time they had talked since before the trade deadline. Both men go way back and otherwise complimented each other.)
“I will address [his concerns] with him personally,” Burke said. “I have no desire to escalate this. But the fact is: He drafted this clause. This no-trade and the timing of it, this isn’t my handiwork. I’m dealing with what I inherited. And so if he doesn’t like the fact that it puts his client in this position, he can certainly accept some of the blame. I don’t have to.”
Burke has a point as it’s not a contract that he negotiated. That honor falls upon former general manager and source of derision in Toronto, John Ferguson, Jr. So what are two sides that are frustrated going to do about things? They might have to deal with each other for one more year if Burke’s tall trade demands don’t come down. Burke has made it clear he won’t just trade Kaberle away to be rid of him and he wants value on any return in a trade. A Joe Thornton-esque 30-cents-on-the-dollar kind of deal isn’t one Burke is eager to make. Shrewd businessmen are funny like that.
It’s clear that the Maple Leafs have a glut of talent on defense and a remarkable lack of talent amongst their forwards so you have to think that a valuable player like Tomas Kaberle has to have some sort of value to a team looking for solid puck-moving defenseman. Whether those teams are willing to give up the key winger or centerman to help make the deal work out has yet to happen and may not happen at all. Still, should the Leafs end up hanging on to Tomas Kaberle, it sets up the possibility for a very awkward year in Toronto and the possibility of having to ask Kaberle if he’d like to waive his no-trade clause as the trade deadline approaches in March. After all, with everything that Kaberle’s gone through to this point and his apparent frustration with the situation, the likelihood of him re-signing with Toronto seems pretty low and getting anything for him via trade at that point would be helpful to the Maple Leafs.