Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Lessons Learned: Nazem Kadri Embracing Veteran Role with Maple Leafs

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Lessons Learned: Nazem Kadri Embracing Veteran Role with Maple Leafs

Article excerpt

Kadri embracing veteran role at Leafs camp

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TORONTO - In March 2015, Nazem Kadri had his most humiliating experience as a Toronto Maple Leaf.

After showing up late to a team meeting on a Sunday morning, interim coach Peter Horachek suspended Kadri for three games. Kadri wasn't making a good impression on newly hired president Brendan Shanahan, who was in the process of putting together the team he wanted for the future and was concerned the forward didn't seem interested in being a part of the rebuild.

Two and a half years later, Kadri calls the episode a "crossroad."

"That point in time I had to make a decision and looking back I felt like I made the right one," Kadri said this week as the Maple Leafs opened training camp.

It was assistant general manager Mark Hunter who vouched for Kadri based on their time together with the Ontario Hockey League's London Knights.

"I feel Mark put his neck on the line for me and said, 'This kid can be a player,'" Kadri, now 26, recalled. "He had my back and I'll always have his. I want to make him look good."

Kadri is in a better place now, saying the current vibe in Toronto is "night and day" compared to his early years in the league.

"It's amazing that I did still end up here as far as all the general manager changes, player changes, coaching changes," Kadri said recently. "I've seen a lot of guys come and go with this organization and it feels good to finally have an impact and have a great team around us."

During his roller-coaster Leafs career, Kadri has seen three general managers, four coaches and a complete overhaul of the organization.

"When this all started I knew I could do it, just had to change a few things to become important to the franchise, along with teammates' help, guidance from management and coaching staff," said Kadri. "I just didn't want to disappoint so I needed to figure it out. …

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