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The Next Star For The Toronto Maple Leafs

from Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet,

In an interesting way, Kadri’s offensive deficiency has led to him playing the strongest, most engaged hockey of his career, to the point that Babcock now calls him the best forward on his team. Throughout the season Kadri has been in Babcock’s office nearly every day, talking to his coach about everything from hockey to dealing with the media to family life. Babcock didn’t know much about Kadri as a person when he came to Toronto, but he did know Kadri as a competitor from his time coaching Detroit, and says his pupil is “a way better player than I expected.” Which is actually a good summation of Babcock’s core message to his centre­—be better. “He’s been real strong, he’s really working hard at trying to do what we ask him to,” Babcock says. “He’s practising way harder; he’s better in the weight room; he’s a better citizen. He’s just better. A better human being.”

Of course, Kadri’s evolution is still in its early stages. Babcock describes his young centre as being “on mile 25 of a 100-mile journey,” which is perhaps a reference to Kadri’s age but more likely just a nicer way of saying Kadri could be four times better than he is today. The process will continue through the end of this season and perhaps for years to come, until Shanahan’s Great Maple Leafs Rebuild is complete and the team is ready—they hope—to challenge for a Stanley Cup. They also hope by that point Kadri is everything Babcock told him he could be during that phone call last spring—an elite player, a leader, an example of professionalism for young players entering the organization.

much more

Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: nazem+kadri

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About Kukla's Korner Hockey

Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

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