BOSTON — Tomas Kaberle may have finally found a home.
The veteran puck-moving defenseman has been doing more moving away from the rink in the past year. After being traded from Toronto to Boston last February and winning a Cup with the Bruins, Kaberle cashed in this summer as a free agent with a three-year, $12.75-million deal in Carolina.
It was a deal that raised plenty of eyebrows around the league after Kaberle's struggles in Boston, and the Hurricanes soon came to regret it. Carolina eventually was able to unload him on Montreal on Dec. 9 in a trade for Jaroslav Spacek.
The deal was more about getting that contract off Carolina's books, and while Montreal may rue the cap flexibility they've surrendered by adding him, the early returns have been positive. After managing no goals and just nine assists with a minus-12 rating in 29 games with Carolina, Kaberle has points in each of his first four games with Montreal.
He's 0-5-5 and even through those four games. He's even managed to spark the Montreal power play in a way he was never able to in Boston. The Canadiens have scored at least one power-play goal in each game since Kaberle's arrival, going 4-for-19 (21.1 percent) in that span. They are still 28th in the league at 12.5 percent, but were converting at just an 11.1-percent clip before acquiring Kaberle.
"He's come in and kind of helped settle our power play," Montreal coach Randy Cunneyworth said. "I think he's done a great job of showing poise back there and finding the openings that are available to him. He sees the ice so well. He's a guy that knows how to play back there and he's a guy who will do great work going forward. We're pleased to have him on board. It was good timing on his coming aboard because we were kind of floundering on the power play. We've kind of got into a better direction with him back there."
Kaberle's former teammates in Boston aren't surprised to see him back to enjoying some success on the ice, and they are happy that he appears to have finally turned things around.
"Kabby is a great guy, a great person and a really good player," Bruins center Gregory Campbell said.
"He signed a really good deal, so I don't feel too sorry for him," Campbell added with a laugh. "But I think he'll do well in Montreal. He used to playing in that [kind of] market. He played in Toronto for a long time. He helped us a lot and I know he's going to help them, just hopefully not [Monday night]."
Bruins coach Claude Julien also went out of his way to praise Kaberle for his role in Boston's championship last spring, while noting that he was pleased to see him fitting in better in Montreal.
"There's the challenge of the game, and the competition within the game, but on the other side there's a human side that you want see guys succeed," Julien said. "And Kabby was a great individual and for whatever people may think of him, he helped us win a Stanley Cup. Maybe people didn't see him as having as much of an impact as they all thought he would, or even ourselves, but he still brought a positive element to our hockey club and he certainly helped us control the puck from the back end onto the power play. And what he's done right now in Montreal is exactly what he's known for — being a good power-play guy, a good puck-moving defenseman and I hope he succeeds because he deserves it."
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