The Hurricanes traded defenseman Tomas Kaberle to the Montreal Canadiens on Friday morning for fellow Czech defenseman Jaroslav Spacek. The Hurricanes expect to have Spacek available for tonight's game against the Winnipeg Jets at the MTS Centre.
Carolina made Kaberle a key piece of its offseason makeover by signing the 33-year-old defenseman to a three-year, $12.75 million contract. However, Kaberle struggled under former Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice and his minus-12 rating ranked third-worst on the Hurricanes. Kaberle played 29 games and gathered 9 assists for the Hurricanes after spending last season with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins. Kaberle picked up a pair of assists in each of his last two games prior to being traded.
"For Tomas, I think it's an opportunity for him to go quarterback a power play. He's got great offense still left in him. He's got a ring on his finger now, so Montreal's getting a good player as well." -- Kirk Muller on Tomas Kaberle
"I know Spacek from Montreal," said Carolina coach Kirk Muller, who spent five seasons with the Canadiens as an assistant coach, two of them with Spacek. "He's going to be a player who can give us minutes 5-on-5. He's still got a competitive level in him. He's a great team guy, so he'll fit in well with this group."
The move is the latest shake-up in the Carolina dressing room over the past 11 days, as Muller is now behind the bench in place of Maurice, right wing Andreas Nodl has moved over from the Philadelphia Flyers and Kaberle has now been shipped out of town.
The move resonated in the Carolina dressing room following the morning skate at the MTS Centre.
"I think everyone in the room liked [Kaberle]," Carolina's leading scorer, Jeff Skinner, said. "It grabs your attention a little bit."
Muller is stressing a more up-tempo style, and Carolina captain Eric Staal says the players have taken notice.
"I think Kirk, coming in the situation he did, has brought a good attitude and good energy," Staal said. "He's asking for a lot from guys. We're trying to get better, and I think we're making some steps."
Despite the Kaberle experiment flopping in Carolina and recent critical comments from Hurricanes president and general manager Jim Rutherford toward Kaberle, Muller wished the defenseman well in Montreal.
"For Tomas," Muller said, "I think it's an opportunity for him to go quarterback a power play. He's got great offense still left in him. He's got a ring on his finger now, so Montreal's getting a good player as well."
With defensemen Jay Harrison and Joni Pitkanen day-to-day with upper-body injuries and Kaberle gone, the Hurricanes are in need of bodies on the blue line. Spacek will arrive in Winnipeg on a flight from Montreal later today.
"He'll be dressed and thrown right in to the fire," Muller said.