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Kadri’s ‘Blunt’ Nature Has Reports Suggesting Friction With Sutter

Nazem Kadri has seen his stock drop significantly with the Calgary Flames this season and some are starting to suggest that he’s not seeing eye-to-eye with head coach Darryl Sutter — which may be a common theme this year.

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Nazem Kadri was the Calgary Flames’ best player to start the season. 

Darryl Sutter coaching a veteran Stanley Cup winner with some snarl seemed like a match made in hockey heaven. 

But reports suggest it’s been the opposite, with Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman weighing in on a subject many have been speculating about for a while — what’s going on with Kadri’s downward spiral. 

Some have linked it to his age and the deep run his former Colorado Avalanche went on last year to claim the Cup. Others point to the massive contract he signed as a free agent and the recent championship satisfying some of that burning flame of competition. 

And then there’s Sutter. 

Earlier in the year, there was speculation that the Calgary Flames head coach was rubbing another newcomer, Jonathan Huberdeau, the wrong way with everything from flippant comments to constant line juggling. Then there was the move to the right wing, and ultimate return to the left side, with Huberdeau relieved the experiment was finally over and the coach suggesting it shouldn’t matter what side his player starts on. 

Between the Huberdeau agent tweets — entertaining social media trolling from Allen Walsh — and Huberdeau’s body language, it’s fair to say there’s been some friction. Even if it’s not spoken words between Sutter and Huberdeau himself. 

Communication, however, may be the source of what’s become the latest hot topic for a Calgary Flames team that seems to lack desire and desperation and chemistry far too often as the NHL playoffs approach — a tournament they look less and less likely to join every night. 

Kadri, who was expected to be a critical piece during the games that matter most, has had three straight games with less than 14 minutes of ice time. All season lows. One of those games was with fourth liners Milan Lucic and Trevor Lewis. He was ineffective again in his limited minutes during an 8-2 blowout in Los Angeles on Monday. 

According to Friedman, the Kadri benching could be due to the veteran’s blunt nature. 

“It’s a weird benching to me. The one thing I’ll say about Kadri is the best thing about him is … he’s blunt. He’s going to say what’s on his mind,” Friedman said Monday during Monday during his 32 Thoughts Podcast.

“I’ve heard that Kadri’s been very vocal about what he sees going on in Calgary and why the team isn’t firing on all cylinders. And I think he’s been very blunt about just the communication between players and the coach there. 

“I’m betting some of that frustration boiled over in that game on Saturday night. I’m curious to see where this is all gonna go.”

Saturday’s game saw the Calgary Flames lose 6-5 to the Dallas Stars in overtime — a league-leading 15th loss in extra time this season. Kadri didn’t get a single second in the overtime, either. 

Some of this is on the 32-year-old centre. He hasn’t scored since Feb. 18, and has two goals in his last 23 games. More than a quarter of the season. The most important quarter of the season for the Flames. It’s supposed to be Kadri’s time. 

It’s not, so maybe it’s time for something to change. 

The question is whether Flames ownership has the stomach to make the right ones. 

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