Dallas Eakins praised forward Nazem Kadri for his progress so far this season.
Eakins was critical of the 21-year-old’s eating habits and fitness regime during training camp but the Toronto Marlies head coach was singing a different tune on Wednesday, telling reporters after practice that Kadri has taken great strides over the past few weeks.
"We’ve talked about it and he has been excellent for the last three weeks especially from his diet (and) I see him in the gym all the time," Eakins told reporters Wednesday. "He’s upped his pace in practice and eventually all of this will just become second nature."
Eakins said that there is still room for improvement and wants Kadri to commit to himself.
"This isn’t for me, for our organization or the Toronto Maple Leafs. This is for him," Eakins said. "I just want him to bring his commitment up a little bit more with his work ethic right from his nutrition to his work in the gym to his work ethic in practice and he’s made great, great strides from when we first got him. But I want him to take another step."
Eakins explained that for players, their expectations have to rise as they progress and the base of the group grows as well.
"I think it’s taken (Naz) some time to get used to this," Eakins said. "But I can say this, especially for the last three weeks, he has not just dipped his toe in the water, he’s taken off his clothes and jumped in naked. He is fully ready to try this and he’s on a great role right now."
Kadri has two assists in five games this season with the Marlies, who currently hold a 2-2-1 record.
It hasn’t all been rosy lately for Kadri, however. On Wednesday he tweeted that he received a $500 parking ticket. He later deleted the tweet.