Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri returns to Toronto for the first time since the trade that bought him to Colorado.
The Colorado Avalanche are playing the Maple Leafs in Toronto tonight, and all anyone is going to talk about is the return of Nazem Kadri to his home town and former team.
So, let’s talk about it here, too. At the time of writing, Kadri hadn’t talked recently about this particular road game. In previous interviews, he talked in general terms about how special it would be to return but how he’s dedicated to his new team now.
It’s not just that Kadri spent his entire nine-year career with the Maple Leafs before the trade over the summer. He’s also from a town just to hours away from Toronto — London, Ontario. He’s from the area.
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When Kadri was first traded, he admitted to being “bummed out.” It was big of him to admit that, and I never took it as a slight on the Avalanche. Read above about his roots in the Toronto area. What’s more, he’d already nixed a trade to the Calgary Flames — he wanted to make it work in Toronto.
Before the Leafs game in Colorado, Kadri talked a little more about the end in Toronto. You’ll remember that it actually ended with his sitting out because of a suspension — he was banned for the remainder of the first round this last playoffs after a hit on Bruins skater Jake DeBrusk.
Kadri admitted in his pre-game presser that he regretted that his tenure in Toronto ended that way, saying, “It’s tough to beat yourself up over that.” He went on to elaborate:
"“I would’ve enjoyed another opportunity at redemption, but, that being said, I gave it everything I had every single night for a lot of years so I’m sure the organization and the fans will be proud of that … obviously, I’m regretful for how it went down.”"
Toronto fans are notoriously unforgiving. But Kadri misses them and the city itself, not to mention some of his former teammates.
One thing he won’t miss is the vulture-like nature of the press. When he first moved to Colorado, I pondered what he would think of our hokey crew here — I don’t mean that disrespectfully. I have great respect for the likes of Adrian Dater, Mike Chambers, Rick Sadowski and newbie Ryan S. Clark. And I love the work of the crew over at Altitude.
But they’re not as… serious-minded and cutting as the Toronto press. Indeed, as I thought, Kadri noticed. He said of the situation:
"“But definitely that white noise… it’s something I thought was normal, but it definitely isn’t. It’s a nice change of pace. Here it’s a lot different in terms of just a little more laid back and a few less distractions, so you can really focus on what you do on the ice.”"
The pressure is definitely off in Denver unless your name is John Elway or Vic Fangio.
"“Enjoy the emotion, enjoy the time, enjoy the respect you get, because the next time you go, it won’t be there. If you don’t take it now, you’re going to miss it.”"
The same goes for Nazem Kadri tonight. This is the one and only time he’ll return to Toronto “for the first time.” I don’t know how the Leafs fans are going to react, but I imagine it should be pretty warmly.
I hope Kadri soaks it all in… and then scores on his former team the way Barrie did on the Colorado Avalanche. Nazem has new allegiances now.