Don't Dis-Kad Him Yet
Take a deep breath Toronto, Kadri showed vital signs in last night's game. That's right, the 19 year old Leafs' first round pick in 2009 is still alive and well. Last night he scored a goal, two actually, and he piled on an assist to bring himself to three points on the night. Pretty impressive if you ask me. Not all rookies are going to be instant stars. I'd hate to imagine what Steven Stamkos would have gone through during his underwhelming rookie season had he been a Leaf. But he turned out just fine if you ask me.
But I'm not going to scold you Leafs Nation, because I'm not devoid of reality like some members of the Toronto media that think a thick mustache is still in style. The reality is, it wasn't Leafs Nation, I know you guys are better than that. It's the Toronto media stirring the pot. But they do it in such a unique and effective way that enables them to turn it on the fans, to make the fans look delusional. But in reality, every Leaf fan I've talked to this month has looked at it the same way I have. If Kadri isn't ready, big deal, he plays in the American league for a while, maybe a season, who knows, whatever it takes. No Leaf fans are hitting the panic button on Kadri, but the Toronto media loves to make it seem like they are.
Anyways, back to last night's game. I didn't get to see the whole thing, but I did get to see some flashes of brilliance from Nazem Kadri. The game was no fluke, that's the type of player Kadri is. Last night, Kadri was moved to the wing, as I suggested would happen a while ago, and he thrived on it. I really don't see Kadri as a center, he belongs on the wing and I really believe that is where he is going to have the most success. If you recall, Phil Kessel was drafted as a center, but was moved to the wing by the Bruins, and the rest is history.
Some see Kadri's training camp as a complete failure, but I see it differently. I actually think that the way things unfolded will actually benefit Kadri more so than if he came in and lit up the scoreboard from the beginning of camp. All goal scorers are going to go through slumps in their careers no matter what. Kadri facing that adversity for the first time now will benefit him in the future. He's been working hard all summer to get physically tougher, but this predicament he's in will surely make him mentally tougher. That's really important when playing in a market like this. If you look at all of the great players that have come through this organization, they've all been able to overcome this adversity over and over again.
Take a look at the Montreal Canadiens for example. This isn't a knock on them at all, but just take a look at Carey Price. He came in and mesmerized the fans, he looked fantastic and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. The problem though, is that learning success before learning failure in cities like Toronto and Montreal is not all that good. For the most part, some sort of failure is inevitable at some point in most players careers. Carey Price is quickly learning that it's a long hard fall from the top in Montreal and he isn't exactly taking it very well. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not looking at Price's play because I think he'll be fine, it's only preseason. I'm talking about his attitude, and for an individual that was once calm and collected, he is quickly reaching his breaking point.
Kadri however, has taken it pretty well, considering he's just a kid. It's a good experience for him to see what the spotlight in Toronto is all about. I think the one thing that hurts Kadri in all of this is that Ron Wilson is the coach. You'd think that when a nineteen year-old is struggling early on, you'd offer some sense of encouragement instead of calling him out in the media, as if he wasn't in the media spotlight already. But I'm sure you all know by now that Ron Wilson isn't exactly someone who cares about the future on the Maple Leafs organization. Ron Wilson cares about himself and how his record looks. Wilson cares about the players that are going to make his record look good right now and if you're a young player not living up to expectations, well as Ron Wilson himself would probably say it, "Get off the bus." It's amazing how we went from the one extreme in Paul Maurice who just loved his players so much that he had no accountability at all, to the pompous ass we have now.
So is Kadri ready? As it stands I'm not sure. Last night showed a lot. People can say that it was only one game, but it wasn't just an ordinary game. It was a game where Kadri was under an immense amount of pressure. All eyes were on him, the fans, the coach, the GM, last night was all about how Nazem Kadri would perform in his 'last chance.'
And you know what, given all that pressure, I'd say he pulled through in a big way, and that shows a lot more than just his offensive abilities.