Tomas Kaberle was born in Ravovnik, Czechia on March 2, 1978. He grew up watching his dad František Sr. play for the national team throughout the 1970s and 1980s, which fuelled his love for the game of hockey. Later in his life, Kaberle became one of the best defensemen to ever put on the storied, Maple Leafs sweater.
This article may give a nostalgia effect but let’s look at six cool things about the former Maple Leafs defenseman, who was beloved by the entirety of the fan base.
1. Kaberle Is the Second Highest-Scoring Defensemen in Maple Leafs History
The Maple Leafs have been around since 1917, and during that time there have been hundreds of players who played for the organization. Even with all that heritage, a defenseman with 520 points sits second all-time in franchise history, as Kaberle ended his tenure in Toronto 248 points behind the late-great Borje Salming.
The only active defender on the team who could come close to passing him is Morgan Rielly. He is currently fifth in all-time points by a defender, with 389 points, just 131 behind Kaberle.
2. Tomas Wasn’t the Only Kaberle to Play in the NHL
Tomas’ older brother, František played in the NHL for nine seasons. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in 1999, which was three years after Tomas was. František didn’t play long for the Kings, only 37 games before he was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers. He spent five productive seasons with the team, where he scored 102 points. He ended his NHL career with the Carolina Hurricanes, after four years, and 82 points.
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Tomas on the other hand played the better part of 14 seasons in the NHL, 12 of those were with the Maple Leafs. During his time with the team, he scored 520 of his 563 in blue and white and collected 461 more points than his brother.
3. Kaberle Was Actually Drafted in the Same Year as Zdeno Chara
Yes, it is hard to believe, but Kaberle was drafted in the same draft as Zdeno Chara. He was selected in the eighth round at 204th overall, while Chara was selected in the third round with the 56th pick by the New York Islanders and was the last active draftee from that draft class. Kaberle hung up the skates on Sept. 22, 2016, after playing 14 seasons in the NHL, which was five seasons before Chara retired.
4. Kaberle Was a Cup Winner, but With the Maple Leafs Rival… Boston
On Feb. 11, 2011, a trade happened to put the ‘Mats Sundin’ era to bed. The Maple Leafs traded Kaberle to their division rivals, the Boston Bruins. In return, they received prospect Joe Colborne, a 1st-round pick in the same year and a 2nd-rounder in 2012. Unfortunately, for the Maple Leafs none of the players or picks they received in the trade worked out, and well, Kaberle went on to win the Cup with Boston. Nothing hurts more than losing to the Bruins, and it especially hurts when you trade one of the best defensemen in franchise history, and he wins it in the same year.
5. Kaberle Goes 4-For-4
In 2008, Kaberle was a participant in the accuracy shooting contest at the All-Star Game skills competition. When it was his turn, he stepped up to the line and shot four pucks, hitting all four targets in a row. Although he only scored 87 career goals, when it came to events such as this one, he liked to show just how accurate of a shot he had. This impressive feat puts him in elite company with Ray Bourque, Mark Messier, and Jeremy Roenick as the only players to go four-for-four in the accuracy shooting challenge.
6. Tomas ‘the Delivery Driver” Kaberle
Tomas’ wife Julie is an owner of the restaurant ‘Qaunto Basta’ and during the heart of the pandemic in North America, there was high demand for ordering food from restaurants. Due to this, Kaberle became a delivery driver for his wife’s company, which had people sharing photos on social media of him dropping off their food.
Although he won a Cup with Boston and eventually was traded to the Montreal Canadiens, he still was an important part of all those teams from the 2000s. The teams that saw players like Mats Sundin, Darcy Tucker, Tie Domi, and Kaberle’s longtime defence partner, Bryan McCabe, suit up for the Maple Leafs. Throughout all that, Kaberle was always a player that was loved by the fans and when he was traded, it seemed that the fan base was relatively upset because it meant an end of an era; an era that saw some great teams, but no success in the playoffs.
Spencer Lazary is a writer at The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He loves to talk about all things Maple Leafs as well as scouting and prospects, he has been writing about Hockey and Prospect Scouting since 2020, and he also is a co-host of a Maple Leafs-themed podcast called “Leafs Talk Forever“