Last night was rough. Not so much the game. The game was actually pretty awesome. Especially that Schenn goal. You've done good by him, and that goal was a testament to your role as his mentor.
Look, I know it hasn't always been easy with the two of us. In fact, you could probably even call the 2008-2010 stretch a tad tenuous. But who was the first person to admit she was wrong when you showed up to play back in October? It was me, Tomas. And I had your back, for better or for worse, when Burke didn't move you during the summer window in the no-trade clause. Sure, maybe it was partially due to not thinking the potential return would be worth the cost, but perhaps it had also finally hit me how empty it would feel when you were gone. That, and the fact that you're a really, really good hockey player.
I'm sure it's my own naivete, but after the various media circuses Burke conjured up every time there seemed to be an opportunity to move you, I truly didn't believe he ever would. So February 18th hit me hard. Over a month later I'm still trying to come to terms with it.
I didn't think I was this sentimental. I thought I knew what I wanted -- a complete turnover; a fresh start for the blue-and-white that could be only be achieved by completely jettisoning the old guard and starting from scratch with all those draft picks the Leafs didn't actually have.
But now there is no remaining vestige from the glory years of my childhood -- the time when every year could have been the year; the years I took making the playoffs for granted and instead spent my time concerned about seeding and home-ice advantage; the years that the powerplay actually scored every once in a while; the years before I ever worried about roster depth or having strong pivots.
You were a part of that. You served as a constant reminder that there was once a time when hockey didn't end in April and blaring car horns were all that could be heard in the Toronto streets. Both of us believed you could be a part of that again, believed that you could help bring the Leafs back to postseason relevance. And now you're wearing white, yellow, and black and I don't know what to do.
For all your critics, at age 33 you're 15th in points for defensemen, ahead of all three of last year's Norris finalists, and still an example of exactly what an offensive-defenseman should be. There are so many good years ahead of you, and it kills me to know I'll have to watch them while listening to Jack Edwards' truly scintillating play-by-play.
But I'm still a fairly young Toronto Maple Leaf fan, not yet jaded enough to accept the realities that make me uncomfortable. I have faith that you'll make it home one day, Kabby. And I will meet you there, no matter what the ticket price.
All the best,
Gary Roberts: Baby Eater