TORONTO – A text message popped up from a number so old, Luke Schenn had forgotten it was still among his contacts.
The returning Maple Leafs defenceman had just moved his growing family into his new Toronto home, excited about his third baby and his shot at a third Stanley Cup.
“Hey, it’s Kabby. I heard we’re neighbours.”
Sitting in the middle of the defencemen’s bank of stalls inside the Leafs Scotiabank Arena dressing room, Schenn motions across the logo on the carpet toward Auston Matthews’ stall on the other side.
That’s how far away, he said, the Kaberles’ driveway is from the Schenns’.
Unbeknownst to him, the newly reacquired Schenn has moved in directly across the street from his original Maple Leafs D partner, Tomas Kaberle, now 45.
“It’s a small world. You don’t anticipate that,” Schenn, 33, said through a wide grin.
“Different paths in life, but here we are.”
The complementary D-men — one a slick-passing lefty, the other a hard-hitting righty — hadn’t spoken much after Kaberle was part of his own Cup-chasing deadline deal to the Boston Bruins in 2011.
But the hockey world is tinier than one might think, word traveled fast, and Schenn has appreciated the opportunity to reconnect with a player beloved by the Toronto fan base and the organization.
“It’s pretty cool. We were together when I first started, and he was a great mentor for me,” Schenn said. “Taught me a lot. He was a true pro.”
Schenn reminisces back to how he attended the grand opening of Quanto Basta — the rustic-chic Italian bistro in Rosedale co-owned by Kaberle’s wife, Julia, and her sister, Daniela — during his first tour as a Leaf. And he’s already made a return trip to support the Kaberles’ business since returning.
“He’s taking care of me, too,” Schenn said. “Showing me the lay of the land.”
What a street for driveway pickup.
The other day, Schenn spotted Tomas’s 11-year-old son, Luka, coming home from one of his minor hockey games. Luka was noticeably sad from a loss.
“I asked what the score was,” Schenn recalled, with a playful smile.
“He said, ‘2-0.’
“I said, ‘You better get used to it because I’m going to come over and kick your butt, too.’”