MacLean had private investigator follow Zherdev

Nikolai Zherdev, right, now plays for Dynamo Moscow in the KHL. (Jay LaPrete/AP)

The Toronto Maple Leafs caused a bit of a ruckus Wednesday when president Brendan Shanahan announced the team was extending Nazem Kadri’s punishment by at least two more games.

Some praised the decision to make an example of players that don’t abide by the rules, but others questioned the manner in which the team went about it.

Sportsnet’s Doug MacLean believes the Maple Leafs mishandled the situation. He also said off-ice incidents with players happen all the time, only most teams keep the discipline private.

“I had a situation with [Nikolai] Zherdev [in Columbus] where I had to hire a private investigator to follow him for a week and come back to me with a written report as to what was really going on with this guy,” the former Blue Jackets general manager told Dean Blundell & Co. Thursday on Sportsnet 590 The Fan. “Then I got [the report] and I dealt with Zherdev and, yeah, he sat out some games, but nobody had a clue that it was going on. Nobody.”

Listen: Doug MacLean talks Nazem Kadri, private investigators and players misbehaving

MacLean drafted Zherdev fourth overall in 2003, and the winger spent four seasons with the Blue Jackets before being traded to the New York Rangers in 2008.

While hiring a private investigator might be a rare occurrence in the NHL, players misbehaving away from the rink is not.

“It happens all the time. I got a call from a landlord about one of my players. They said they had to change his locks seven times on his apartment door… he kept kicking the door in,” MacLean said. “You have guys charged with impaired driving, all kinds of things. So you deal with them and you deal with the guy as severely as you can. And if he misses a game, he misses a game. Or you trade him. You do lots of things. I’ve traded some players over issues. I traded Lyle Odelein once over an issue and nobody knows why.”

Despite what’s going on with Kadri, the 24-year-old centre is expected to be a key part in the Maple Leafs’ rebuild unless the team decides to go in a different direction.

“He’s a restricted free agent, so his negotiations will start probably in a month’s time for his next contract. He’s looking for probably a five-year deal in the $5-million-per-year range,” MacLean surmised. “It’ll be real interesting to see where those negotiations go, and is this a part of the negotiations.”

MacLean added he believes Shanahan’s comments could have potentially hurt Kadri’s trade value should the Leafs explore moving him and that GMs around the league might now question Kadri’s responsibility.

“I think he wants to be a Leaf; I think he loves being a Leaf. He’s got some issues there’s no doubt,” MacLean said. “Hopefully he learns from this and it ends and you move on, but I think he could’ve learned from it and everybody could have moved on without everybody wondering what it was.

“Let’s not forget [Tyler] Seguin. He was moved from the Bruins because he had some off-ice issues, and he was leading the league in scoring this year with Dallas.”

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