He couldn't be trusted.
The Toronto Maple Leafs made that unfortunate determination about Nazem Kadri when he was suspended for the second time in as many playoff series versus the Boston Bruins, each contributing to a first-round disappointment. Kyle Dubas and Brendan Shanahan were surrendering a ton of value, deciding they had to move a cost-controlled, third-line centre prototype, and a player that had shown an ability to perform well versus high-quality competition.
But Kadri exists as a wild card by nature, they deemed, and a player proven incapable of controlling emotions, and actions, in the most important moments.
Fooled twice already, the Leafs weren't chancing it again.
His trade out of Toronto a few weeks after the concussive shot to the face of Boston's Jake DeBrusk in 2019 was a tough pill to swallow for many Leafs fans, but at least the sympathetic ones could feel solace in that Kadri landed with the Colorado Avalanche.
Kadri would have a fantastic chance to win there, and to execute on the role he seemed destined for. Rooting for him from afar seemed palatable for most.
Maybe it didn't feel that way when Kadri was better behaved for the Avalanche in his first postseason run in a new sweater, and the return for the talented middle-six forward proved to be less self-destructive, but no more beneficial.
But now, only five nights into the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and with the Avalanche poised for a long, profitable postseason run, Kadri has offered another reminder of why he just couldn't be trusted — and how he ended up in Colorado in the first place.
With a high, blindside hit in Wednesday's Game 2 of Colorado's first-round series versus the St. Louis Blues, Kadri delivered another brain-rattling blow, this time on defenseman Justin Faulk. Faulk was totally unaware of the incoming contact in the moment, busy following through on a shot at goal as Kadri emerged from the blindside and landed his shoulder flush on to his chin.
The predictable events ensued following the collision, with members of the Blues confronting Kadri, and Kadri asking "what?," shoulders raised and palms up, with an incredulous look on his face.
That second part seems to make it clear; despite the obvious damage done, the disturbing visual of Faulk's cheek lying flat on the ice and visor fogging up, and his reckless nature already costing him his role with the team that developed him into a solid NHL player, Kadri still doesn't quite comprehend.
"Guy can't control himself," St. Louis's Brayden Schenn said after the game, calling for a lengthy suspension. "He has a guy in a vulnerable position and picks nothing but the head."
Not that it is listening, the oft-criticized NHL Department of Player Safety offered an in-person hearing to Kadri, meaning he can receive a suspension worth more than five games for the deliberate shot. It seems head man George Parros has been particularly detailed since turning the other cheek when perhaps the only player less in control than Kadri, Washington's Tom Wilson, rampaged through the New York Rangers earlier this month.
Regardless of who is in charge, when everything adds up and is accounted for (including how repeat is this repeat offender after 18 months of relative good behaviour?), the Avalanche will be without an important player, still, for a prolonged period of time.
A hit this predatory just demands that sort of action.
Timing hasn't historically been Kadri's thing, but in the Avalanche's case — and if you have already pencilled in some sort of discretion — the earlier might be the better.
The Avalanche are far more equipped now to handle personnel loss when compared to any of Kadri's previous teams. And up 2-0 already in the series versus St. Louis, it's hard to imagine anything, aside from maybe an unplanned absence from Nathan MacKinnon, slowing their immediate roll. Even when losing a segment of the overall team toughness isn't ideal against a St. Louis team ready to drag you into the mud.
But with Kadri's suspension likely to carry over into the next series, and a matchup versus either the Vegas Golden Knights or Minnesota Wild — two teams that present more substantial problems for the Avalanche — it's possible that the out-of-bounds aggression will still loom large.
Either way, there will be a time to debrief for Joe Sakic and the Colorado management team, whether it's in the wake of a championship moment or another disappointing exit.
And you wonder, certainly if it's the latter, if another permanent conclusion about Kadri is drawn.
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