The time has come for the Denver media to apologize to Nazem Kadri
When the Colorado Avalanche’s season was on the line, there was no shortage of talented players or stars to bring the team back from the brink. So who was it who pulled it off?
Nathan MacKinnon? Gabriel Landeskog? Mikko Rantanen?
Nope. It was the man the Denver media left for dead, one Nazem Kadri.
During last season’s playoffs, Kadri delivered a vicious hit on Justin Faulk of the Blues in the first round. Now let me be clear, I’m not diminishing the seriousness of the blow or the effects suffered from it by Faulk. It was terrible to see Faulk laying prone on the ice.
However, when I watched the play, I saw it for what it was – a twisting, mistimed play that sometimes happens in hockey. Or as a texter to “The Dan Jacobs Show” aptly put it this Saturday, “It was a lightning quick play that missed its target by inches.”
Think I’m crazy? When the league handed down its suspension, it didn’t use language that was so different, citing Kadri for a “high forceful check.” In fact, the NHL admitted the crushing suspension wasn’t really for the severity of the hit, but because Kadri was a “repeat offender.”
I wasn’t surprised when Blues fans and media cried bloody murder on the hit. What I was surprised about was how the normally cuddly, team-friendly Denver media sunk theirs fangs into Kadri immediately after the hit.
It was such a rare occurrence that I had almost never seen since I began my media career at The Fan as a senior in high school in 1996. In fact, normally the homerism is so well known that I’ve given them the tongue-in-cheek nickname of “The John Elway, lapdog suck-up media.” As you can imagine, I’m a popular guy around town.
So I really was perplexed when seemingly the entire media corp immediately turned their crosshairs on one of their hometown players. Even, my brothers at The Fan got in on the mix.
“Nazem Kadri, to this point, has done nothing but hurt the Avs!” Mike Evans railed to his morning show listeners.
“I told you from the beginning this was a bad deal for the Avs,” James Merilatt reminded his readers on Denverfan.com.
And so, knowing there would be virtually no backlash in Denver, it was easy for the NHL to unleash its heavy handed, over the top suspension. The rest is history.
Without Kadri’s toughness and grit, when the going got tough, the Avs could not respond and the Golden Knights dealt Colorado a humiliating series defeat, sending the most-electric team in hockey home for the season. The Avalanche’s season ended in the second round. Again.
How did Kadri respond? First, he was one of the best players in hockey all season. And just when the Avs looked like they were in danger of being the same old team that would fold in the playoffs when they got bullied – starting in Game 3 and then with one of the most-memorable performances in the team’s history – Kadri took over this series.
As everyone said he would, “Kadri went Kadri,” just not how everyone expected. He got under the Blues skin, got in their heads and has all but polished off the Blues.
And you guessed it, he’s being celebrated all over town by the Denver media And rightly so. He’s hands down the team MVP of the Avalanche’s playoff run right now.
But under every byline, before starting every tweet and when cracking that mic, every member of the Denver media that sold Nazem Kadri down the river last season should man up and eat that huge plate of crow that No. 91 has served up to you cold.