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Flames’ Kadri Walks Back Into Leafs Land “A Little Taller” After Cup Win

Nazem Kadri never wanted to leave the Maple Leafs. But a trade helped him win a Stanley Cup and the Calgary Flames centre says it was a “blessing in disguise.”



In previous homecomings, he was Nazem Kadri, former Toronto Maple Leafs first-rounder. Now the Calgary Flames pivot returns to Toronto as a Stanley Cup champion. 

And he didn’t want to leave in the first place. 

We all know the story about the trade he blocked to Calgary. 

The fallout of that was a trade to the Colorado Avalanche. And in the end, that culminated in a Cup before he picked the Flames as his next squad in free agency this summer.

It’s been quite a journey. 

“It really was a blessing in disguise,” a thoughtful, mature Kadri said on Saturday morning in Toronto. 

“I think it’s just helped me develop into the player I want to be. I’m still working on that and trying to learn every single day. At the time (the trade) felt like the worst thing ever. Now it doesn’t seem that way.

“I’m just glad I got the opportunity to play on a great team like Denver and compete for a championship. At the end of the day, that’s ultimately what matters.”

Kadri had a hot start with the Flames. There was a dip in his energy after about the first 10 games or so, but he’s been more like his fiery self lately. Winning four of five games at home before falling flat in Columbus against Johnny Gaudreau and Co., Kadri will have to elevate in his former rink to help the Flames rebound. 

Not an easy task. The Leafs have points in 13 straight. Mitch Marner has been breaking streak records and Auston Matthews is still one of the deadliest snipers in the league. 

“Based on that they’re the best team in the league right now,” Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter said Saturday. “Our top players have to take a step up here. That’s really been missing on the road here.”

He pointed to just three wins on the road. Edmonton. Florida. Philadelphia. 

“That tells you that our best players are not playing up to the level we need them to do to get points. Their top players … those guys have taken a whole other level in terms of their leadership. They’re by-example players.”

Sutter was talking about Marner, Matthews and John Tavares on the Leafs. 

Kadri is definitely on this list of his top guns

The 32-year-old who has 10 goals and 20 points in 27 games with the Flames so far, was asked if he’d be walking a little taller into the rink in Toronto after his Cup win — something his former team is still striving for. 

“I mean, yeah, maybe a little bit taller everywhere, not just this building,” he answered. “That’s something I worked very hard for and had to earn. It’s nice to get that out of the way. Being a champion in special.

So is the NHL city he called home for almost a decade. 

And so is the player. 

“That’s a special type (of) player,” Sutter said. “That’s a guy that’s got the intangibles that separate him. 

“You could say he’s old school but there’s nothing old school about having a big heart.”

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