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Boston Bruins acquisition Tomas Kaberle is already fitting in with his new team. (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images) (Phillip MacCallum/2011 Getty Images)
Boston Bruins acquisition Tomas Kaberle is already fitting in with his new team. (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images) (Phillip MacCallum/2011 Getty Images)

Allan Maki

Kaberle blending in with black and gold Add to ...

Tomas Kaberle still hasn't had a full practice with his new team, the Boston Bruins.

He's had a pregame skate, a morning skate and Tuesday's clash with the Calgary Flames was his second game in black and gold. But that first full practice? Maybe today's the day.

Not that he's suffered much from his lack of on-ice bonding. Kaberle's fit with the Bruins has been as seamless as possible. Skilled player suits up with good team. Handles point duty on the power play. Plays a lot of minutes and plays them with composure.

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And that's not even the best part, according to the Bruins. Once he does settle in, once he gets his stuff out of Toronto and his head fully away from the Maple Leafs, Kaberle could give the Bruins what they need most: a defenceman who can not only make a nifty first pass, but one who can make his teammates that much more dangerous.

As Bruins head coach Claude Julien put it Tuesday: "One thing we've been talking about is getting a good puck-moving defenceman; one of those elite guys we didn't have. He sees the ice so well it will help our guys get into the end zone better."

Kaberle with a good team has a chance to be exponentially better than he ever was with the Maple Leafs, the only other NHL team he has played for. The Bruins' talent level is higher, the work ethic better and the depth superior. For all those reasons, Kaberle agreed to waive his no-trade clause and be shipped to Boston last Friday for a prospect (Joel Colborne) and two high draft picks.

A whirlwind weekend that included a 4-2 win over the Ottawa Senators in his debut did nothing but bolster Kaberle's conviction he'd made the right decision.

"They've got a great team," he said of his new employer. "I've played against them a lot. They've got great goaltenders and defence. I like to play on a team that has a chance to win the Cup."

Winning the Stanley Cup, even coming close to it, was not in Kaberle's immediate future in Toronto. While he spoke glowingly of his time with the Leafs, there was a sense he had grown tired of being mentioned in trade rumours and that facing the relentless scrutiny of a hockey-mad market had stopped being tolerable.

Asked if Kaberle was truly appreciated for what he brought to Toronto, Matt Stajan, another former Maple Leafs player (now with the Flames) was hopeful that was the case.

"He deserves it. He just went about his business. He never wanted all the attention … Toronto is Toronto," Stajan said. "You can't get away from anything at any time. [The trade]will be good for him. He did a good job for Toronto.

"He wants to win."

Kaberle paid homage to his 12 years in Toronto. He said it was sad to leave and he was thankful for the support he had received along the way and the guys he had played with. But that was all he could muster up.

In the end, he noted, it was about facing "another challenge" and "moving on."

The Bruins' ambition is to move along as far as they can this postseason. Acquiring Kaberle and forwards Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley in last week's spate of trades has enhanced their status as a Stanley Cup contender. The trades were designed to fill needs and elements but also to take advantage of how wide-open the Eastern Conference has become, what with the Washington Capitals having misplaced their consistency and the Pittsburgh Penguins thinned by injuries.

Julien wasn't willing to talk about the playoffs just yet, especially since "we felt we had our opportunity the last couple of years." But with their revamped lineup, the Bruins are a better bet now than they were less than a week ago.

They like to think they'll be stronger still once the new guy on defence gets in a few practices.

Follow on Twitter: @AllanMaki

 

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