Brendan Shanahan may no longer be serving as the NHL’s Director of Player Safety, but that doesn’t stop him from imposing sanctions on his own players. In this particular situation, the player on the wrong end of the stick was Toronto Maple Leafs forward, Nazem Kadri.
After Kadri overslept through a team meeting on Mar. 8, the Leafs’ President benched him for the following night’s game against the surging New York Islanders at the Air Canada Centre – a game in which they lost 4-3 in overtime. There was more to the story though, because Shanahan decided to sit Kadri for two more games, against the Buffalo Sabres and the Calgary Flames. Shanahan told a cluster of reporters that Kadri’s ‘snooze button’ issue was merely one of numerous incidents that have transpired, instances in which the players have been instructed to not speak publically about.
“It’s time for him to start making better decisions,” said Shanahan at the press conference on Mar. 11. “There’s a history here and there comes a point in the careers of many hockey players in similar situations, there comes a point where you’ve got to grow up.”
Kadri is one of the Leafs’ most skilled players on the roster. As convenient as it is that the Leafs’ draft status will continue to improve by remaining in their losing skid, that wasn’t the case here. No one in the general public knows what he did, but there’s been a history of public shaming revolving around Kadri for the past few years.
When Kadri showed up to training camp with the Toronto Marlies in 2012, ‘then’ coach Dallas Eakins was vocal about his discontent in terms of his weight.
“That’s the easiest part coming into camp is eating correctly and training correctly,” said Eakins in 2012. “I think he’s probably improved a little bit on the ice. His diet is not where it should be.”
In Shanahan’s first year as the team’s President, he has persistently provided his roster with many chances to redeem themselves, but it seems as if Kadri has been taking those opportunities for granted, and his clock is starting to tick. Being in the city that the Leafs are situated in, the management needs to maintain a level of discipline. Shanahan is delivering that promise to the city.
Shanahan can actually relate to Kadri on a personal level. Back in his playing days, Lou Lamoriello suspended Shanahan for his unpunctuality in New Jersey as a rookie, lasting three games. He never forgot this suspension, and he knows that players like to have fun, which can often have them wandering from their own morality and creates personal errors in judgment. The only difference between Shanahan and Kadri’s internal suspensions is that Shanahan was 19-years-old, and Kadri is currently 25. It’s time for Kadri to grow up, and Head Coach Peter Horachek agrees.
“Sometimes you have to make the hardest decisions that are based on doing the right thing for the team,” said Horachek.
When MLSE CEO Tim Leiweke introduced Brendan Shanahan to the Toronto media last year, Leiweke recognized that the team required an identity.
“I’m not sure the Leafs have the right culture,” said Leiweke. “This is something that Brendan Shanahan and Dave Nonis will have to work on. I definitely sense that we lack an identity and, right now, we’re a team that lacks direction, and we want to change that.”
A year later, a culture is being established with discipline being implemented into the hockey club’s daily operations and hopefully great things will happen as a result of it. Ladies and gentlemen, give a warm welcome to the new Toronto Maple Leafs.