BOSTON — The rumors were flowing freely at the Garden, almost as freely as Toronto forwards were weaving through the Bruins' zone en route to a 4-3 victory over Boston with a pair of late third-period goals on Tuesday night.
But when the Maple Leafs left, defenseman Tomas Kaberle went with them. The Bruins did make a trade, acquiring center Chris Kelly from Ottawa, but no deal was struck with the Leafs for the coveted Toronto blueliner, just has been the case for going on three years now.
"We have the same agent, so it's pretty funny," Bruins forward Mark Recchi said of Kaberle. "I talk to him and I said, 'Geez, it's been three years now that I've been here that he's been coming here.' Who knows? You never know what's going to happen."
That uncertainty isn't always humorous though. This time of year can be difficult for players uncertain of their future. Bruins coach Claude Julien wasn't accepting excuses, but he recognized that outside factors could be playing a role in Boston's first three-game losing streak of the season.
"The mistakes we're making are just unacceptable," Julien said. "It's guys not thinking, not being ready. I don't know if there's distractions up in the air that brings that around the team, but to me, [Tuesday's] game was a very big disappointment."
Recchi's been through a trade deadline or two. Actually he'll be going through his 22nd this season, and he doesn't see that as an excuse for the Bruins' performance.
"It's not, it shouldn't be," Recchi said. "It is what it is. Peter [Chiarelli] will try to improve the team if he can improve it. It's the nature of the business. I think the East is pretty wide open. Is he going to do something? I don't know. I like our team now, but if he feels he can improve it, he'll improve it. You lose players throughout your career. It's the unfortunate part when guys do get traded, but it's the nature of the beast when guys do get traded. I don't want see anybody go, but at the same time if Peter thinks it's going to help us, it's going to help us."
Recchi did say that as the Feb. 28 deadline draws closer, he will talk with some of his younger teammates that haven't been through this as often to calm any concerns over the process.
"Once we start getting closer," Recchi said. "There hasn't been much talk yet, obviously there's talk that Peter's trying to do something, but we haven't heard too much besides Kaberle, the normal stuff we've heard for three years now that I've been here. Basically that's the only thing we've heard. But if it starts to get a little closer and it starts to get a little more talk, then definitely it's important that we all sit down and make sure everybody knows not to worry about it and just play our game."
For what it's worth, a trade for Kaberle would get the full endorsement of Recchi, who not only shares an agent, but also won a Cup with Kaberle's brother Frank.
"He's a competitive guy," Recchi said. "I played with his brother in Carolina when we won. Frank's a terrific guy, so I can't imagine the apple fell far from the tree with his brother either."
Kaberle, meanwhile, denies anything is imminent on the trade front as far as he is concerned.
"I never heard anything actually," Kaberle said after Tuesday's game, which followed an afternoon full of rumors. "I was sleeping, getting ready for the game and obviously I don't know what's going on. You guys probably know better. I was just getting ready for a game and I'm happy to get two points at the end of the night.
"Every time there's a deadline there's a lot of speculation in the media and stuff," Kaberle added. "Players have to stay out of it and focus on the games."
Kaberle stayed vague when asked about reports that he was willing to waive his no-trade clause to come to Boston.
"I heard more teams than just the one team, but at the same time it's nice to hear that, that there is some interest," Kaberle said. "Obviously I would like to stick around Toronto, but you never know what's going to happen. Right now it's nothing to talk about. If something's going to happen my agent's going to call me and we'll go from there."
Kaberle did admit that Boston would be an attractive option if he were to move on from the Maple Leafs.
"I would think so," Kaberle said. "They have a pretty good team, good goaltenders. I've played lots of games against them and they're always tough to beat. We'll see what's going to happen.
"It's always nice when you can get a chance to play in Stanley Cup playoffs," Kaberle added. "I haven't played in it in five years. Right now it's tough on me and my teammates. You don't want to have a distraction."
With the trade deadline looming, it's hard for anyone potentially on the block to avoid that fate.