The Toronto Maple Leafs scratched off forward Nazem Kadri for two more games for allegedly missing a team meeting prior to the March 9 game against the New York Islanders. He sat out that game as well.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have scratched off forward Nazem Kadri for two more games.
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Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan confirmed the news to The Toronto Sun's Curtis Rush on March 11. The 24-year-old Kadri already sat out Monday's game against the New York Islanders. He will now miss the Leafs' game against the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday and the Calgary Flames on Friday. He will return to the ice for the road game against the Vancouver Canucks on March 13.
After Toronto lost, 6-1, to the St. Louis Blues on March 8, Kadri said he slept in and showed up 20 minutes late for a team meeting, per Rush.
Shanahan made the announcement in lieu of general manager Dave Nonis, who was scouting out of town. The Maple Leafs president told Rush the team had to come down hard on Kadri for his own good:
"I spoke with Dave Nonis and I spoke with the coaching staff. I spoke with Nazem Kadri and he won't be playing in our next two games.
"There's more to this, obviously. If this was a case of Nazem being 15 minutes late for a meeting one time, yes, then you could possibly sweep this under the rug and handle this internally.
"But Naz is an important part of our future. We like Nazem Kadri. His teammates like him. We expect a certain level of professionalism. It's time for him to start making better decisions. There's a history here.
"He understands our decision."
Shanahan added,"Incidents like this won't be tolerated," per The Toronto Star. He said Kadri was disappointed when he found out about management's decision.
According to ESPN's Katie Strang, Kadri was in the press box watching as his team lost, 4-3, in overtime to the visiting Islanders on Monday. Shanahan told Strang that "this is a key moment in Kadri's career" and "he needs to look at the mirror and decide where he wants his career to go."
The Kadri issues adds to the drama that has been building up in the Maple Leafs' locker room.
Just last week, leading scorer Phil Kessel blasted the Toronto media for being allegedly unfair toward Maple Leafs defenseman and team captain Dion Phaneuf, per Strang. Kessel added some of the concerned media members should be "ashamed" of themselves and apologize to Phaneuf.
He said,"I think the way the media treats Dion in this city is embarrassing...Is it his fault we're losing? No. Did he build this team? No."
Strang notes both Kessel and Phaneuf have been criticized for their leadership on a struggling Toronto team this season. Both players were reportedly about to be dealt prior to the NHL's trade deadline on March 2. Strang stresses they could be traded during the offseason instead.
For his part, Phaneuf did not speak to reporters about Kessel's rant on Tuesday, per Strang.
However, he did talk to Rush about Kadri's situation:
"We're going to support Naz through this situation, and I think he has handled himself very well during a difficult time.
"He stood up and took ownership for what happened the other day. We're here to support him."
Rush describes Maple Leafs head coach Peter Horachek as "uncomfortable" when the press asked him about the Kardi issue. He did mention he wanted his 24-year-old forward to handle the situation "like a pro."
Kadri has 16 goals and 20 assists for 36 points through March 11, per Strang.
The Maple Leafs are tied for 13th in the Eastern Conference through Thursday with a 27-35-6 record for 60 points, per ESPN.
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