MONTREAL – The Montreal Canadiens acquired defenceman Tomas Kaberle from the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday in an attempt to kickstart their ailing power play.
To obtain the veteran Czech, the Canadiens gave up defenceman Jaroslav Spacek.
Canadiens coach Jacques Martin said he believes Kaberle will provide the dominating power-play presence the team hoped Andrei Markov would bring.
”Andrei Markov is our quarterback, but he hasn’t played a game yet,” Martin said after the team’s practice Friday.
The oft-injured Markov underwent more knee surgery last Monday and isn’t expected back for at least another six weeks.
”The power play is a critical part of the game for us,” Martin said.
”If we can get better production out of it, maybe that can make a difference. That’s what happened my first two seasons here.”
Spacek learned of the trade just as he was about to jump on the ice for Friday morning’s practice.
With the Hurricanes playing in Winnipeg on Friday night, he immediately dashed off to the airport to head out to Manitoba.
”He (Spacek) was happy here,” said Martin. ”He was a very nice person and he played well. Unfortunately, he was injured twice this season and he missed several games.
”But he helped us these past two years, especially when we had a lot of injuries and we paired him with Roman Hamrlik.
”To get someone, you have to pay the price, and he’s the player we had to give up to get a quarterback.”
Kaberle, 33, has 538 points in 931 NHL games mostly with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He joined the Boston Bruins last season before their Cup run and signed with the Hurricanes over the summer.
After this season, Kaberle will have another two years left on a contract that pays him US$4.25 million a year.
He has struggled in Carolina this season with nine assists and is minus -12.
Spacek, whose salary accounted for $3.83 million of the Canadiens’ payroll, will be an unrestricted free agent next July 1. He has three assists in 12 games this season.