With the NHL lockout still dragging on, Tomas Kaberle hasn’t gotten much ice time with his Montreal Canadiens lately – so the former Maple Leaf took advantage of his downtime this week to skate with some junior Canadiens in Etobicoke.
Kaberle and Mimico native David Clarkson, a forward for the New Jersey Devils, laced up alongside 60 young players from The Queensway Canadiens’ tyke and novice teams Friday morning at Mimico Arena.
“It’s fun. They asked me to do it last week and I said sure – I’ve got lots of time with the lockout and it’s great to see the kids having fun,” said Kaberle, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ second-highest scoring defenceman.
“Growing up, playing at the rink, we were all looking up to the older players and the professional players – and now we get to be that position where we get to play with them, shoot some pucks, give them some passes.”
For Clarkson, who recently built a home in Mimico, the decision to participate in Friday’s Queensway Canadiens PA Day hockey clinic was an “easy yes.”
“I was one of them one day, and I think we should be able to give back in little ways, especially for me in a place where I grew up,” he said, noting that he played lacrosse with the Mimico Mountaineers.
“I told the kids that this is a game that’s meant to be fun. You know, you’ve got to work hard at anything you do in life, but people sometimes forget that hockey’s a game and you’ve got to enjoy it – at this age especially.”
For young aspiring NHLers like Rhys Robb and Adrian Violo, getting the chance to skate with – and score against – professional players like Kaberle and Clarkson was a “dream.”
“It was really, really good,” said Rhys, 8. “My favourite part was shooting a slapshot against Kaberle. He said I could beat him anytime.”
The experience was also a thrill for the parents in the stands.
“I think this is great. For a PA Day, it’s a great way to spend the day,” said Matthew MacKay, dad to five-year-old novice player Calum. “The kids have been working so hard all fall and this feels like a nice reward for all that hard work. It’s also an inspiration for the kids – they see these professional guys coming out here and working hard, still working on their skating and all that. It’s great.”