Bouncing back

Thursday, 31.05.2012 / 10:30 AM / News
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Bouncing back

MONTREAL – Not meeting their own standards can often be a player’s best motivation for a summer of hard work.

Tomas Kaberle has experienced his share of ups and downs over the course of an NHL career that’s approaching the 1000-game mark. From finally hoisting the Stanley Cup as a member of the Bruins in 2010-11, to switching between struggling teams – playing for both the Carolina Hurricanes and the Canadiens in 2011-12 – the Czech defenseman has truly touched on both ends of the spectrum in his two latest campaigns.

“I didn’t think I had a good start to the season in Carolina, but as the year went on I started feeling better and better,” expressed Kaberle of his progression from scoring only 9 points in 29 games with the Hurricanes to boosting his production to 22 points in his time with the Habs. “With the four month break, I’m sure I’ll be able to come back in September in really good shape and ready to go.”

Like it or not, winning the hockey’s greatest prize came with a downside for Kaberle in the form of a shorter-than-usual offseason. Between competing well into the summer months and the numerous Cup-related media appearances that ensued, the 13-year NHL veteran was left with little time to properly prepare for his follow-up to Stanley.

After suiting up for two of the highest-pressure markets in the League with Toronto and Boston, Kaberle knows just how much a team can mean to its fans and the responsibility that can put on its players.

“Honestly, it was a disappointing season for us. We thought we were going to do way better than we did. You always want to be in a position that will let you play in the postseason, but it didn’t work out that way,” shared Kaberle, who would clearly have liked to see his first season in a Canadiens uniform end with different results. “I don’t like to talk about myself too much. That’s what coaches are for and that’s what media is for. But I obviously wasn’t happy with my start to the season, and then to not make the playoffs in a market like Montreal was very rough.”

In a year that saw as many criticisms directed towards the Canadiens’ newest power play specialist as the team itself, Kaberle maintains that while it’s never easy to face the media spotlight, it can also be something that drives a player to perform.

“Whether you’re playing in the States or Canada, it shouldn’t matter. You have to perform wherever you are. Hockey is a business and I’ve experienced this before in Toronto where you have 20-30 members of the media on you every day,” explained Kaberle, who also knows things are unlikely to change next year as the Canadiens attempt to rebound after a difficult campaign. “It’s hard, but it’s also what pushes you at the same time and helps you make sure you’re always on your toes.”

With a full summer stretching out before him, Kaberle plans to join friend and countryman, Tomas Plekanec, in his offseason training. His goal is same as the rest of the Canadiens: to return for the 2012-13 campaign, rested, focused and ready to win.

“We all feel like it’s going to be a long summer for us. I’m going to do my best to spend the summer working on my conditioning and training.” concluded Kaberle. “There’s a lot we need to think about to make sure we have a better season for ourselves and the fans next year.”

Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.

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