Notes: Kaberle enjoys competitive atmosphere

Notes: Kaberle enjoys competitive atmosphere

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

VANCOUVER Tomas Kaberle has toiled for the last five seasons in Toronto without any hope of the playoffs.

So participating in playoff-style games against teams like Calgary and Vancouver in the final days of February is exactly what he had in mind when Brian Burke decided he wasnt part of the plans in Toronto.Kaberle hasn't notched a singleassist in his first two games, buthas stillimpressed the Bruins with his puck movement,the ability to create onthe power play, the important ability tomake other players around himbetter, and the rare trait atabsorbing plenty of ice time in the same efficient manner that Zdeno Chara does.

Its been five years and its difficult to answer questions about why no playoffs. Itll be nice not to have the questions, said Kaberle. Obviously with my last year of my contract and Brian not extending me, it was pretty much saying you have to move on and pretty much time to waive the no trade.

I didnt want to be a bad guy, and overstay my welcome there and then say well see what happens in the summer. He gave me a chance to go somewhere else and I just want to take advantage of that. Boston is a great team, and hopefully its going to work out for me and my teammates as well.

The biggest measuring stick game of the trip comes for the Bruins Saturday night against the Canucks, and many are billing it as a potential preview for the Stanley Cup Finals. Thats something that Kaberle hasnt been a part of for a good long time, and its something hes really looking forward to.

Theyve been on top of their conference all year long. They havent been going through stretches low and high, said Kaberle. They keep it pretty much steady, and its going to be a big challenge from the very first minute. Theres only a couple more days to help Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, Cradles to Crayons and BJ's Wholesale Club, who are teaming up to host the Fourth Annual PJ Drive for Massachusetts' children in need. Throughout the month of February, Bruins fans, families, schools and corporations were encouraged to donate new, unused pajamas for underprivileged children statewide. There are only a couple of days left in the drive. For more information, visit bostonbruins.com.Courtesy of Bruins media relations maven Eric Tosis always-entertaining Bruins Week Ahead, Shawn Thornton and Kaberle were actually defenseman partners for a pair of AHL games in their minor league careers. Thornton and Kaberle were D partners for two games when they both played for the St. Johns Maple Leafs during the 1997-98 season in the AHL (American Hockey League). Thornton was a defenseman at the time.Claude Julien has been pretty happy with what he's seen out of center Chris Kelly in two games thus farwith the Bruins, and the steady, heady center has already earned his coach's trust: "You tell him something once and he gets it. Most of the time you don't even have to say anything to him because he reads the game really well. I think he's a very intelligent player," said Julien. "What we've heard about him and what we've seen of him has been bang-on. We were told by people that had how smart he was -- and how well he can adapt -- and we've seen that in two games."

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Hindsight is always 20/20, of course, but it appears the Bruins made a mistake buying out veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg from the final couple of years of his contract. 

Seidenberg just finished up a wildly successful stint with host Team Germany at the IIHF World Championships, where he was named Directorate Best Defenseman (the tournament’s best defenseman) after leading all D-men with a goal and eight points. This came after Seidenberg, at age 35, posted 5 goals and 22 points in 73 games for the Islanders, with whom he signed after being cut loose by the B's, while averaging a shade under 20 minutes per game.  Seidenberg also had an excellent World Cup of Hockey tournament for Team Europe last summer (where he was teamed once again with Zdeno Chara), thus managing to play at a high level from September all the way through May.

A faction of Bruins fans thought he was on the serious decline after the 2015-16 season and, clearly, the Bruins agreed, opting to buy him out with two more years still left on a sizable contract extension. (They owe him $2.16 million next season and then will be charged $1.16 million on their salary cap over the next two seasons.) But the B's could have used a durable, defensive warrior like Seidenberg in the playoffs, when they lost three of their top four defensemen against the Ottawa Senators. A rejuvenated Seidenberg, able to play both the left and right side, would have been a better option than Colin Miller.

The Bruins made a conscious decision to hand things over to younger defensemen like Miller, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and Joe Morrow in cutting ties with Seidenberg. But they also perhaps miscalculated how much Seidenberg still had left in the tank after his best season in at least three years. 

“Well, at the time we felt like [Seidenberg's] game had really dropped off to where we thought he couldn’t contribute, and we wanted to see if some younger players could come in and help us out,” Bruins president Cam Neely said at the end-of-the-season press conference earlier this month. “I’ve got to say he played well this year for Long Island. But at the time we thought it was the right move. You can’t envision us having three of our top four D’s get hurt [in the playoffs]. We went through a lot of D’s in the postseason. You can’t predict that.”

Neely is referring to the decision made after Seidenberg’s second straight minus season in Boston, when back injuries and a major knee injury had seemed to slow him down a bit. It seemed the only way to properly evaluate some of their other, younger defenseman was to cut Seidenberg loose, but one has to wonder if the Bruins would have possibly done it had they known he was still capable of playing like he did this season for the Islanders. 

Either way, the buyout of Seidenberg is an extremely legitimate second guess of Bruins management in a year where they did a lot of things right. 
 

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while feeling like we’ll be getting a Pittsburgh/Nashville Stanley Cup Final, which I suppose would be the best possible outcome at this point.

*You hear the name and it just gets you angry all over again if you grew up watching the Bruins. Ulf Samuelsson is in the running for an assistant coaching job with the Chicago Blackhawks, according to a report.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Chris Johnston says it appears that the time is running out on a Cinderella season for the Ottawa Senators.

*A taste of winning at the world championships with Team Sweden could fuel Alex Edler’s desire for a change from the rebuilding Vancouver Canucks.

*Interesting piece on a former can’t miss goaltending prospect with the Nashville Predators that ended up totally missing, and what he’s been up to in life since then.

*Guy Boucher explains to Pro Hockey Talk why he kept changing goaltenders in the Game 5 blowout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

*Don Cherry explains that he hates afternoon hockey during his Coach’s Corner from Hockey Night in Canada in the Game 5 blowout between the Penguins and Predators.

*A good piece from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Alex Prewitt on the Nashville Predators, and the evolution of the franchise into a team on the verge of a Stanley Cup Final appearance.

*For something completely different: What a win by the Boston Celtics in Game 3 in Cleveland, and quite an interesting, fired up interview with Al Horford afterward.