Nazem Kadri's dream season: new leaf or another false dawn in Toronto?

时间:2019-09-22  作者:申屠摭  来源:威尼斯人网址  浏览:36次  评论:180条

It wasn't too long ago that uttering the name Nazem Kadri around a Toronto Maple Leafs fan would bring a slow shake of the head and a dejected shoulder shrug. Kadri – drafted by Toronto seventh overall in 2009 – earned a reputation for popping into the Leaf lineup with a lot of promise, only to sputter in the NHL and find himself quickly bumped back down to the Marlies. What could Leafs fans really say? He always seemed like he was ready. Every time. And then, nothing. .

At this moment, Kadri is the Leafs' top scorer and was picked by the league as one of the week's three stars, alongside Alexander Ovechkin and Niklas Backstrom. It's a complete turnaround. Now, everyone is second-guessing themselves about him. Maybe he was great all along. Maybe, uh, Don Cherry was right? Now the praise is everywhere.


"I saw him around Christmas with the Marlies," said Phoenix general manager Don Maloney. "He didn't do much. And I thought, you know, maybe he's not going to make it. "And we all make the same mistake in this business. We want to rush our kids and have them play right away. We want to make snap decisions. And when they don't do what we want, too often we give up on them."


Some, like New Jersey Devils head coach Peter DeBoer, are now comparing Kadri to a young Doug Gilmour or saying that he might be the No1 centre that the Leafs have been searching for since Mats Sundin left. And while that talk might be surprising – if not overly premature for 22-year-old who entered the year having played only 51 games, the praise has also been a refreshing change.


On Thursday he became just the third Leaf in the last 23 seasons to register three or more points on two consecutive days, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. His three assists in Wednesday's win over the Lightning combined with his two goals and an assist in Thursday's shootout loss in Buffalo put him in the rare company of Mats Sundin and Doug Gilmour.

So, what happened here? It's difficult to explain exactly why Kadri, after going up and down from the Leafs to the Marlies – and getting worse than the cold shoulder from the media (he was considered a joke and generally another point of failure in the long line of shameful bad decisions from the Leafs head office) – he's suddenly on fire. It's likely almost impossible to say. Perhaps even Kadri (whose nickname, "Dream", comes from his first name being mispronounced Nazeem by so many commentators, thus "Nazeem the Dream") doesn't know. Maturity? Team composition? Both?

The Leafs are still being publicly cautious in their praise for Kadri, saying that he has things to work on yet, but in a generally rare good-news season in Toronto, Kadri has been a very pleasant surprise indeed.

Rick Nash didn't get suspended (and why)

On Thursday night, the Panthers were in New York to visit the Rangers. And with a few minutes left in the third, and the Rangers down by two, :

Even though Tomas Kopecky was all right in the end, surely this must have meant an immediate suspension for an elbow from behind, right? Wrong. How about nothing at all? How about no penalty and no suspension?

Here's Brendan Shanahan on the hit: "Although we do not think this was a legal hit, we also believe it does not rise to the level of supplemental discipline." Why? First, Kopecky turned right before Nash hit him, "which contributes to the impact of the hit." And second, Nash didn't target Kopecky's head "nor is it the principle point of contact". . But questions remain, still. Did Nash leave his feet? Was the back really the principle point of contact, or was it the neck and head? And what of the standard of low tolerance?

According to what Shanahan saw, Nash's arm rose up Kopecky's back and knocked his helmet off – unintentionally. Over on Hockey Night In Canada Saturday, Glen Healey suggested another reason Kopecky's helmet came off: he simply rarely puts it on properly. Still, as Elliotte Friedman countered, Kopecky was defenceless and that "you can't have that play anymore in hockey".

Whether the decision was accurate or not, the fallout has been this: ambiguity. One of the continued major faults of the NHL is its evaluation and enforcement of the rules. We've talked here a lot about the issues on the ice like fighting and hits from behind, and generally they all come back to one central point: at some stage, the refereeing and league punishments are not consistent or clear enough to discourage guys just simply trying stuff to see whether they can get away with it.

Leaf forward Joffrey Lupul wondered as much on Twitter after the Nash decision came out. Lupul was suspended two games . In that case, Lupul approached from the side and, according to the league, targeted the head. It was a sneaky hit that came after Hedman got rid of the puck. On Friday, , asking the universe, "If someone can explain the decisions on what warrants a suspension and what doesn't, please let me and the rest of guys know..".

But perhaps some good has come from the confusion. As Puck Daddy pointed out this week, .

Trades (and trade rumours)

Busiest of all this week were the Pittsburgh Penguins, shoring up Brendan Morrow from Dallas and then Monday singing Douglas Murray from San Jose to shore up the back end. And while Sidney Crosby (when you factor in the changes in the game and, uh, a whole bunch of other variables, probably), the Penguins are also apparently on a very short list of teams Jarome Ignila would consider should he actually leave Calgary in the very near future. On HNIC Saturday night, the story was that while nobody's really talking (that is, either Iginla's representation or the Flames), things are in motion to move the star out of Alberta soon.

According to a few outlets, Iginla's shortlist is only four teams long. Along with Pittsburgh, . It's difficult to believe that the Blackhawks or Penguins could get much more dangerous this year, but adding Iginla to either roster would make them all the more formidable. Same, probably, for Boston. LA would be interesting, as Iginla would return to playing under Darryl Sutter, and a Flames-esque system. What would Calgary get in return? Hopefully, at least, a goalie.

As for Calgary? , it's business as usual. He told reporters the rumours shouldn't be a surprise: "It's the time of year. At the same time, we knew with our players that would happen … You just have to keep going. That's part of being a hockey coach, that's part of being a hockey player."

Playoff speculation!

Just for fun, let's speculate on the playoffs – .

In the East, the top tier is starting to solidify a bit, barring any catastrophic meltdowns (note: I have to repeat the standard warning that comes when I do predictions, which is that more often than not, they're the kiss of death). Pittsburgh is putting up insane numbers right now, currently on a 12-game winning streak. Montreal has managed to keep some kind of pace and Boston is looking likely to go into the postseason. Same goes for the Jets, as long as they keep getting to beat up on the Lighting and Panthers. They should be able to make it in third spot, thanks to the NHL's wonky standings system. As is always the case, it will probably come down to the wire for the eighth spot. The Islanders, Rangers, Capitals and Hurricanes have all been consistently inconsistent enough that it's anyone's guess how they'll finish. Personally, while my money's not on them, I'd like to see the Islanders back in the playoffs. But only if they promise to ditch this joke.

The West is a total gong show, as usual. It's not likely that Calgary, Edmonton or Colorado will make the postseason, but at the moment they're only four, five and seven points out of eighth spot, respectively, so … OK, fine, they have no chance. That leaves (probably) Dallas, Columbus, Nashville, San Jose and Phoenix to battle it out for that last place. And, knowing the West, it's entirely likely that LA and St Louis are far from safe at the moment. If I were guessing, I'd say the only sure thing in the West for the postseason right now is Chicago. And probably Anaheim.

I welcome rampant, unbridled, baseless speculation in the comments on who might make it.