Maple Leafs defenceman Tomas Kaberle has denied reports that he "can't stand playing for (head coach Ron) Wilson" and downplayed rumours that he is prepared to make the move from Toronto to a different team.
The Toronto Sun had reported that Kaberle told friends he "can't stand playing for Wilson...he's had enough...he's at his wit's end with the guy."
Kaberle addressed the media before Thursday's game against the Sabres to dismiss the talk of a rift with Wilson.
"I'm here over 10 years in the league and I've never (had an) issue with the coach and I hopefully never will," Kaberle said. "I would like to know who said that, obviously. But it's fun sometimes to read stuff like that in the papers.
"If that is the case, I would probably ask for a trade at the deadline, right?"
Wilson also spoke on Thursday and addressed the reports of trouble behind the scenes.
"I'm here to try and make guys better so you have to be a boss," he said. "There's kind of a way you turn it on and turn it off but in your casual conversations you're not a friend -- you're friendly.
Wilson added that "you still have tough decisions you have to make and there's lot of situations where you have to come down hard on people if they're not getting the job done within the team structures."
He said he had "no issue" with Kaberle.
Following Tuesday's defeat at the hands of the Atlanta Thrashers, Wilson hinted strongly about the veteran defenceman when describing the loss.
"We talk about how solid our defence is and how well we're playing and we've still got guys who are minus-16 or whatever," Wilson said on Tuesday, referencing Kaberle's plus-minus. "They're supposed to be guys who get the job done defensively and they haven't improved their plus-minus over the past month when just about everybody else has."
Wilson said on Thursday that it was his duty as coach to call his players out.
The Leafs have missed the playoffs for five straight seasons, but according to the paper, the main motivating factor in Kaberle's desire to leave is the way Wilson coaches the team and treats his players.
Kaberle is the longest-serving current Leaf and was part of the team that has made it to the Conference Final in 1999 and 2002. Selected 204th overall in the 1996 Entry Draft, he has spent his entire career in Toronto.
His best season came in 2005-06, when he put up nine goals and 58 assists for 67 points. In 815 career games in the blue and white, Kaberle has 80 goals and 402 assists.
Kaberle has one year left in his contract and speculation is that he'll be on the market when his no-trade clause is lifted for a short time this summer.
Moving the veteran blueliner would all but complete a house-cleaning of long-time Leafs since GM Brian Burke took over in 2008. Already gone are Jason Blake, Alex Ponikarovsky, Matt Stajan, Vesa Toskala, Alex Steen and Nik Antropov.