The Toronto Maple Leafs named their alternate captains this week and one name that was noticeably absent was that of Tomas Kaberle.
Kaberle, who has spent his entire 11-year NHL career in Toronto, was an alternate captain last year when the team went without a full-time captain. This year, Dion Phaneuf has been named captain while Mike Komisarek and Francois Beauchemin will be his assistants.
But Kaberle did not take the omission as a slight against his leadership or playing ability and said it's business as usual for him.
"It's still the same, I still have the same job to do out there. It doesn't matter if I've got the 'A' or not," Kaberle said. "This is the coach's call and I agreed with it so it's fine with me."
Over the summer, Kaberle's father Frantisek Sr. told a Czech hockey magazine that he didn't envision his son playing out the upcoming season in Toronto because of his strained relationship with Leafs' head coach Ron Wilson. The younger Kaberle denied there was any rift with his coach, saying 'My Dad watches a lot of games and he can say what he wants. It's his opinion but I don't agree with it.'
Wilson told the media on Wednesday that he spoke with the veteran defenceman about the decision and there were no issues.
"We picked three of what we think are the best leaders on this team and I've had conversations with Tomas. He's comfortable with it and I'm comfortable with the situation," said Wilson. "Should the need arise where one of the players is injured, without a doubt, Tomas would be the next guy in line to wear an 'A'."
Kaberle spoke highly of Phaneuf, Komisarek and Beauchemin and, while he would step in if needed, he knows there is no shortage of leadership on the team.
"They're great leaders in this room and he said if something comes up, I'm the next guy," said Kaberle. "It's not about who's wearing the 'A" or the 'C' in this dressing room; everybody is a leader themselves."
For his part, Phaneuf made it clear that Kaberle will be counted on to lead the team with his experience.
"It was Ron's decision. He wanted to go with a small group but that's no discredit to Kaberle at all," said Phaneuf. "He's still a huge part of this leadership group and we know that."