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NHL Report: January 8, 2009

<strong>Tomas Kaberle</strong> is a frustrated and miserable defenceman with theToronto Maple Leafs and is thinking about waiving his no-trade contractto join the Montreal Canadiens.

Tomas Kaberle is a frustrated and miserable defenceman with the Toronto Maple Leafs and is thinking about waiving his no-trade contract to join the Montreal Canadiens.

That's the word from two NHL sources, who also tell us the Leafs and Canadiens have been involved in trade discussions for several days.

"The Canadiens need a puck-moving defenceman to quarterback their power play, which is struggling badly," one of the sources said. "Kaberle could be the guy for them. He has that sort of ability. And the Leafs, of course, are looking for draft picks and young guys for their future under (new general manager) Brian Burke.

"So they're talking trade. But the question is -- will Kaberle agree to be traded?"

He will, the sources suggested, if the Canadiens guarantee him a new, long-term contract.

"What's clear around the NHL is that Burke doesn't have much time for Kaberle," one of the sources said. "He doesn't like his style and he absolutely hates the fact that Kaberle has a no-trade contract. He'd love to work out a deal for him with Montreal."

The sources said Kaberle has just about had it with the Leafs.

"He doesn't like (coach) Ron Wilson's system," one of the sources said, "and he doesn't like the Leafs' losing ways."

Kaberle, who'll be 30 in two months, entered Thursday with 25 points on the season and ranked among the NHL's top-scoring defencemen. Sixteen of his points were produced on the power play.

The Leafs, incidentally, also seem prepared to release Curtis Joseph soon. He's a future Hall of Famer, most likely, but, according to the aforementioned sources, Burke doesn't care much for the aging goaltender and his increasingly inept performances as a backup.

As they struggle woefully, the Ottawa Senators are hearing rumblings that suggest veteran NHL coach Pat Quinn and Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson will soon replace Craig Hartsburg and Bryan Murray as the club's coach and general manager, respectively.

It's so difficult to believe these days that the Sens were in the Stanley Cup championship series only two seasons ago. The Sens have been absolutely horrible lately. They are 1-6-1 on a road trip that they will complete Thursday night in Boston against the heavily favoured Bruins. The Bruins, as mentioned in the NHL Report here last week, have been setting records en route to establishing themselves as the most dominant team in the NHL.

And, while the Sens are likely to be humiliated in Boston during this mismatch, they'll get the harsh reminder that Boston's leader and most important player was a dude they let get away a couple of years ago for nothing.

Zdeno Chara -- all 6-foot-9, 255 pounds of him -- has been so productive for the Bruins this season that he's emerging as a very strong candidate for the Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenceman.

"Chara has been so dominant defensively in the last 15-20 games, strength-wise, clearing the zone," Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli told the Boston Herald the other day. "I haven't heard his name in the Norris Trophy talk much, but I really think it should be. You see guys draped all over his back, but he's still moving the puck out of our end."

Indeed, Chara has been a defensive monster. In his 17 games before meeting his old Ottawa teammates, Chara was a remarkable plus-18.

"I haven't see him play this well defensively in all my years around him," said Chiarelli, who was in Ottawa's front office before recruiting Chara as a free agent for the Bruins.

The Buffalo Sabres were not long ago one of the better teams in the NHL at protecting their leads.

Not anymore.

Only five teams have worse records when scoring first than Buffalo, and only three teams have squandered more second-intermission leads than the Sabres.

Last week, the Sabres relinquished third-period leads in losses to the Canadiens and the Pittsurgh Penguins.

"It's something where we have to figure it out," Buffalo centre Paul Gaustad told NHL.com.

"We have to make sure we get those points. We can't be where we were last year, a few points out the playoffs and letting points slip away. That's something we'll address in this locker room now, and it's something that can't go ignored. We're taking it very seriously."

Marty York is Metro's national sports columnist as well as an
instructor at the College of Sports Media in Toronto. He can be heard
regularly on Vancouver radio station CKNW with Sportstalk host Dan
Russell. Contact Marty at marty.york@metronews.ca

 
 
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