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Kaberle right on target

Saturday, 01.26.2008 / 10:27 PM / 2008 NHL All-Star Game

By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Tomas Kaberle hit all four targets in the first round, matching the accuracy standard set by Ray Bourque in 1992 and again in 1993, then equaled by Mark Messier in 1996 and Jeremy Roenick in 2004.
ATLANTA -- Just because Tomas Kaberle shot the lights out in the Most Accurate Shooter event at Saturday’s NHL Dodge SuperSkills competition, don’t expect the Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman to turn into a gunner.

“This was just for the skills competition, for fun. It wasn’t a game situation,” Kaberle said after staking his claim as the NHL’s resident sharpshooter by demolishing eight of the nine targets he faced.

Kaberle, shooting for the Eastern Conference, hit all four targets in the first round, matching the accuracy standard set by Ray Bourque in 1992 and again in 1993, then equaled by Mark Messier in 1996 and Jeremy Roenick in 2004. He and the West’s Jason Arnott, of the Nashville Predators, each hit three of four targets in the individual finals, with Kaberle blowing apart a final target in a shoot-off after Arnott missed.

“I knew about Bourque,” Kaberle, a 29-year-old Czech native, said of the record. “I didn’t know about Messier or the other guy (Roenick). It’s nice to be in the book.”

Kaberle has heard the chants of “Shoot!” for much of his NHL career. He’s never taken more than 163 shots in a season, never averaged more than two shots a game – and never scored more than 11 goals in a season. In 51 games this season, he has seven goals on 99 shots, and in his career, he has just 68 goals – but 312 assists – in 650 NHL games.

He was swarmed by his Eastern Conference teammates after hitting the final target to win the accuracy event, which helped the East All-Stars beat the West 9-6 in the overall competition.

“They came and told me ‘unbelievable shot,’” Kaberle said in downplaying his accomplishment. “I think the hardest shot is the hardest (event) to win – there are so many guys out there with good shots.”

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Kaberle doesn’t have a big slap shot, but he’s the owner of one of the League’s better wrist shots – and he let the wrister rip in the SuperSkills event.

His secret to success?

“You have to try to make it like it’s a game situation,” he said. “If you try to lob them, you’re going to miss. You have to get the puck flat on the ice and then you can let it go.”

Kaberle had a definite method to his attack on the targets.

“I went left-right-left-right -- top first and bottom after that,” he said.

He also has a message to fans and critics – who, he knows, will want him to shoot more after watching him on Saturday.

“I know myself – I’m a passer,” he said. “I’m not going to change.”

Quote of the Day

When I first became captain here, Monsieur Beliveau came to me and said, 'You're going to be fine. You don't have to change, you got selected because of who you are.'

— Saku Koivu on Thursday, recalling what he was told by the late Jean Beliveau when he was named Canadiens captain in 1999
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