Lebanese-Canadian Nazem Kadri is set to become the most prominent Muslim player ever in the history of ice hockey, at least according to his pedigree. After a dominant amateur career in the Toronto area, he fulfilled the dream of being drafted by his home town team when the Toronto Maple Leafs chose him with the 7th overall selection in the 2009 National Hockey League draft. Only 19 years old, Kadri just recently completed his season with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League. But hockey pundits believe that the NHL will be his next stop.
Kadri was born in London, Ontario, and like many Canadians, his exposure to ice hockey came early. He was skating by the age of two, and was playing actual hockey by the age of four. He comes from a family of six including his parents and three sisters. And, he credits his father as having a big influence on his career. Nazem continued to progress in the world of hockey, all the while maintaining his faith. He eventually became the president of his high schoolâ€™s Muslim Student Association. And by 2009, he became only the second Muslim ever drafted to play in the NHL. On February 8, 2010 he made further history. Due to a series of injuries on the Maple Leafs team, Kadri was called up to play for Toronto for only one game. At that point he became only the fourth player of Lebanese descent to play in the league.
Kadri is universally regarded as the Toronto Maple Leafsâ€™ number one prospect and as one of the top ten prospects in all of hockey. Hockeysfuture.com describes him as â€œHighly skilled and fearless on the ice.â€ NHL Director of Central Scouting, E.J. McGuire even likened Kadri to NHL greats Mario Lemieux and Vincent LeCavalier in his projections. And, Kadri was even the cover boy for The Hockey Newsâ€™ recent Future Watch edition.
The Toronto Maple Leafs had a miserable season this past year, finishing with the next to worst record in all of the NHL. So, this could be a great opportunity for Kadri to make his mark. And it certainly helped his cause after his future coach, Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson, said this in April at an end-of-season press conference, â€œIn my heart, I believe Nazem Kadri will be a part of this team, right from the get-go next year.â€ Inshallah this could be just the start of great things to come for Nazem Kadri.