With injuries to the Toronto Maple Leafsâ€™ top two centers, Lebanese-Canadian ice hockey star Nazem Kadri will have a great chance to become the teamâ€™s top dog. And itâ€™s an opportunity that he indeed relishes. â€œItâ€™s a challenge and I accept any challenge thatâ€™s thrown at me,â€ Kadri said. â€œI want to be one of those (go-to) guys. What better way to show people? But itâ€™s not just me. Everyoneâ€™s got to be ready to play. We have to rally around each other. This is where we really see what teams are made of.â€
The 23-year-old Kadri signed a new two-year, $5.8 million contract in the off-season after a breakthrough 44 point season last year. Kadriâ€™s former minor league coach, Dallas Eakins, credits Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle with bringing the best out of Nazim. â€œâ€¦(Carlyle) will keep his foot on the gas pedal,â€ Eakins said, suggesting that the Leafs coach will not allow Kadri to digress into his old bad habits.
But Kadri doesnâ€™t selfishly think of only his own situation. His thoughts also go out to his injured teammates. â€œI talked to [injured center Dave Bolland] (after the game) and he was a little bummed out,â€ Kadri said. â€œObviously, that sucks. But he knows what he has to do. Hopefully, the surgery went well. I really hope he recovers well and quickly.â€ But Bolland may need to recover quickly in order to reclaim his job. Because, the uber-talented Kadri just may have a stranglehold on it.