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Friday, December 9, 2011

Canes put "Pillowcase" in the wash

Posted by on Fri, Dec 9, 2011 at 2:19 PM

Tomas Kaberle, we hardly knew ye.

And even yet, we knew ye too much.

The holiday wishes of Canes fans have been granted. Tomas Kaberle is no longer on the team.
  • Photo by D.L. Anderson
  • The holiday wishes of Canes fans have been granted. Tomas Kaberle is no longer on the team.
The Carolina Hurricanes unloaded the pile of laundry on skates that is Tomas Kaberle on Friday, shipping him off to Montreal in exchange for 37-year-old defender Jaroslav Spacek. Signed to a three-year, $12.75 million deal over the summer, Kaberle lasted just 29 games with the Canes, assisting on nine goals and scoring zero.

But the Canes won't even mind if the door hits him on the way out.

This isn't so much a trade as a salary dump. If Kaberle could have been sewed into a burlap sack and dumped in the Neuse River without legal repercussions, general manager Jim Rutherford would have done it already. That he could move Kaberle and his huge contract for a passable veteran in Spacek, who comes off the Canes' books at the end of the season, could vault Rutherford into consideration for GM of the year.

Kaberle made a name for himself as a power play specialist in Toronto, and was one of several ex-Maple Leafs who had played under recently fired coach Paul Maurice in his tenure behind Toronto's bench.

But his ability seemed to vanish the moment he pulled on a Bruins sweater at last season's trading deadline. Although he was part of a Stanley Cup-winning team, he tumbled down the Boston depth chart as they advanced through the playoffs, becoming an afterthought.

Rutherford had hoped he was signing the Toronto hot rod, but he got the Boston lemon. Kaberle was unwilling to skate hard, take open power play point shots, or go anywhere near the corners or boards. In Maurice's last game as Canes coach, Kaberle was a healthy scratch.

“This deal brings a solid, veteran defenseman to our team for the remainder of this season and allows us more flexibility with our roster moving forward,” Rutherford said, in a team press release. There's no word on whether Rutherford was dancing a jig while making that statement.

Spacek had three assists in 12 games with the Canadiens this season, missing time with an upper-body injury. He will not be expected to do much other than not be Tomas Kaberle for the remainder of the year. As a 13-year veteran, he will bring some experience to the defense, which Carolina needs.

With the unexpected emergence of rookie Justin Faulk, who's younger even than Jeff Skinner, and the scoring response that Jamie McBain has made under new coach Kirk Muller, the Canes are going young on the back end. Derek Joslin rounds out the youth movement. Veterans Joni Pitkanen and Jay Harrison are currently on the shelf with injuries—Pitkanen for the second time this season—leaving the Canes blueline short on the tooth but loaded with promise that will now get plenty of ice time to develop.

Carolina broke its seven-game losing streak on Wednesday with a 5-3 victory in Edmonton—Muller's first win in five games since replacing Maurice. Young legs skate faster, which fits Muller's up-tempo style. McBain has three goals and two assists in his last three games since being a healthy scratch to showcase Kaberle for this trade.

Carolina continues their Canadian swing tonight in Winnipeg, and Spacek will be in the lineup.

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