Kadri Clowned Under Burkie's Big Top
The show must go on: Kadri clowned under Burkie’s Big Top
Who needs the NHL to keep the Toronto media circus rolling? Despite the lockout, and precious little to talk about with but one solitary summit between arch-rivals Bettman and Fehr since the 15th of September, the gossip mill remains in full effect…
All it takes to keep those gears turning here in Toronto under the big top is one less-than-fit former first round pick, a reporter with a mic and a rather pointed question, a coach with a direct answer, and someone to spin the tale for a hockey-starved readership.
“His body fat today is probably in the bottom three to five guys in our whole camp and that’s unacceptable,” Said Coach Eakins.
“That’s the easiest part of coming into camp (is) eating correctly and training correctly’’.
…So, what went awry, here ?
Kadri’s work with fitness/nutrition expert Gary Roberts during the summer was well-documented, and, naturally, Leafs Nation waited collectively with baited breath for its first look at the new-and-presumably-improved top offensive player in the system.
One would have to assume that Coach Eakins came to camp with his own expectations for Kadri, now entering his fourth year with the club. Showing up for the first day of camp prepared to be among the leaders in terms of fitness seems pretty reasonable for a kid who is presumed to be their top offensive weapon, especially with the seniority he’s garnered.
The results , as we all now know, weren’t flattering.
By now, Kadri has heard the same spiel countless times from Brian Burke on down to the coaches and trainers. At this point, it’s gotta be on the kid to know what’s expected of him, and he should be fairly low-maintenance, after all the organization has invested in him, right?
“I’m still a young guy, I’m slowly learning how to be a pro and what types of food to put in my body.”
There you have it. Nazem is apparently confident that after three years in the system, and at the age of 21, he still has time to learn how to be a professional.
Compare and contrast with a few other 1990 birthdays who went in the top 10 in the 2009 draft.
Of the entire top ten group in 2009, only three were 1990 birthdays; those being John Tavares, Victor Hedman and Nazem Kadri. Of that same group, only two have yet to emerge as full time NHL’ers. Those two would be Scott Glennie of the Dallas organization, and Kadri. I’m not counting Paajarvi-Svennson, as he has had at least one full NHL season under his belt.
Since 2009-10, Glennie has 77 goals, and 126 assists across 200 games, good for just over a point a game. Nazem is right in there with 76 goals, 115 assists over 199 games. That’s 191 points, just a touch under a point a game. To say he isn’t producing would be a bit of a stretch, but he’s yet to break away and separate himself from his peers in any meaningful way, either.
I’m really not one for hyperbole, one way or the other, but there are questions to be raised here. While some may feel Dallas Eakins violated some code or another by throwing Naz under the bus once again, others will contend that it may be a tad cavalier of the player to wear the accolades of graduating from the Gary Roberts Institute of having your ass kicked into shape, like a badge of honour, only to report to camp in a condition that the coach calls ‘’unacceptable’’.
On september 21, Coach Eakins tweeted that ‘’significant’’ testing would take place in seven days. He then followed up with this:
‘’ Some factors are out of an athlete’s control but being fit is NOT one of them. Science is there. You only need to fully commit. 7 days ...’’
If he made that knowledge public via social media, can we all agree that the players also got the message? Anything lost in translation here for anyone?
The coach characterized the testing to come as ‘’significant’’. He also went on to intimate that one’s level of commitment would be reflected by the results.
A week later, we hear the coach claiming that the team’s best offensive prospect underwhelmed on the first day back to work, despite admonishing about the importance of the tests. What do we deduce about the player’s commitment level, based on Eakins’ comments made september 21?
It certainly wouldn’t be the first time Nazem’s public persona took a hit, and his repeated failed attempts to join the other 8 graduates coming out of the top ten in his draft class have certainly raised eyebrows over the years. Are we to surmise that all is lost here with Kadri? I really don’t think so, but he may be suffering from a touch of Wellwood-itis…
Kadri has often been chastized for coming off a tad cocksure, still anyone attempting to deny the skill set would certainly be under-selling his immense talent. Problem is, inordinately talented minor leaguers who can’t make the leap are two-a-penny these days. Nik Filatov and Kyle Beech spring to mind...
If Kadri ultimately proves to be a kid with million-dollar mittens and a fifty-cent head, who ultimately is to blame? The organization for allegedly bobbling in terms of his development, or the player for not digging deep enough to take the next step ?
There have been improvements in Kadri’s lower body strength, by all accounts, even Eakins’. The Marlies benchmaster stated that Kadri’s tests were improved, but specified that his body fat needed significant work. With any luck, that improved lower centre of gravity and core explosiveness he talked about translates into increased confidence and ultimately, better results on the ice.
At some point, it has to become less about justifying himself for producing better results than previous failed attempts, and more about separating himself from his peers and becoming a leader in his own right. If not here, then perhaps with another club where a fresh start means he can hit re-set and get it going.
We’ve heard for years about how the organization’s top young gun needs to grow into his body, but maybe a better question might be: When is he going to grow into his grey matter?
Body fat issues aside, Kadri’s chances of landing a gig with the bigs here under Burkie’s big top could very well be growing slimmer…
Never a dull moment in Leafs Land, that’s for sure.