Only 18 years old, Tomas Kaberle was drafted 204th overall in 1996 NHL Entry Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs. His father had been a Czech hockey representative and it was he who taught his sons the game of hockey. Tomas grew up in Kladno, 20 kilometers west of Prague. Kladno's most famous hockey talent is none other than Jaromir Jagr. But then Tomas Kaberle appeared in the training camp for the first time in 1997. He tested Canadian ice during two games with a farm team in St. John's, Newfoundland, but returned to the Czech Republic at the age of 19 to play 47 games for his old team Poldi Kladno, registering four goals and 18 assists.
In September 1998 he was back in Toronto. This time he garnered the attention of coach Pat Quinn, who put him through the hoops. His verdict actually came as a surprise to Kaberle. He was to stay with the team on a trial basis. He could not believe the news. And Pat Quinn did not leave him on the bench, sending him out onto the ice at every opportunity. It was a chance for Kaberle to refine his game. Kaberle played well and with time, he got more daring.
But the first season was not easy. He went through a crisis and suffered from fatigue. While he was taking a rest from the game, it began to look as if he might never see Stanley Cup playoff action. Ultimately this move, however, proved to be the right one. Kaberle, rested up and anxious to get back in the game, appeared in the Stanley Cup playoffs after all and played brilliantly. The Toronto Maple Leafs fought their way to the semi-finals where they were eliminated by the Buffalo Sabres.
From the start of the 1999-2000 season, Tomas Kaberle provided constant support for his team. He had acquired a healthy self-confidence and started collecting points. Though, like most defenceman, he earned his points mainly from passes, he even started scoring and is on his way to becoming one of the top defencemen in the league.
A member of the Czech Republic's Olympic Team in 2002, Kaberle would miss 13 games during the 2001-02 regular season before helping the Leafs reach the Eastern Conference Final against the surprising Carolina Hurricanes. In 2002-03 Kaberle suited up for all 82 games, establishing career highs in goals (11) and points (47).
In 2003-04, Kaberle played his 400th NHL game and surpassed the 200-point plateau. He spent the following season competing in Kladno due to the NHL lockout, and returned to the blue and white for the start of the 2005-06 season. That season, Kaberle tallied a career high 67 points and won a Bronze Medal representing Czech Republic at the 2006 Winter Olympics.
The following season, Kaberle's offensive numbers dipped only slightly. He racked up 47 assists and 58 points, ranking him among the leaders in the NHL for scoring by a defenseman.
Though Kaberle's offensive production was steady, the post-lockout Maple Leafs struggled and set a franchise record for consecutive years missing the playoffs. Changes were coming in Leaf land and the high-priced veteran talent seemed likely to be moved. Players that had been mainstays in the Leaf lineup such as Mats Sundin, Darcy Tucker and Bryan McCabe were all gone, leaving only Kaberle as the only holdover from the pre-salary cap NHL.
In 2010, Kaberle again represented the Czech Republic at the Olympic Winter Games which were held in Vancouver, though he and his countrymen failed to repeat their performance from four years previous and finished a disappointing seventh place.
During the 2010-11 season, Kaberle's time in Toronto would come to an end. In the days leading up to the NHL trade deadline it became clear that both Kaberle and the Maple Leafs were looking for a change. On February 18, 2011, Kaberle was traded from the only NHL club he had ever known to the Boston Bruins in exchange for a first round draft pick, a conditional second round pick and prospect Joe Colbourne. The move turned out to be a fortuitous one for Kaberle as the Bruins would go on to win the Stanley Cup only months later.
After surviving a first round scare from the Montreal Canadiens, the Bruins steamrolled over the Philadelphia Flyers and endured a seven game battle with the Tampa Bay Lightning en route to the Stanley Cup Final where they would take on the powerful Vancouver Canucks.
The Bruins would defeat the Canucks in a classic seven game series, with Kaberle contributing steady play from the back end. With the Stanley Cup celebration still in full-swing, Kaberle became an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2011 and inked a deal with the Carolina Hurricanes.