While Nazem Kadri did talk about the play that ended his 2020-21 season on Monday, he also is ready to close the book on that chapter as he prepares for his third campaign with the Colorado Avalanche.
Kadri was given an eight-game suspension for a hit to the head of St. Louis Blues defenceman Justin Faulk in Game 2 of their first-round series last season. It was his sixth suspension for a total of 16 playoff games and 11 regular-season games.
“At the time of the game, nothing had happened before for it to get heated,” Kadri told reporters in his first press conference since the suspension. “I was trying to make a responsible defensive play. A lot of things could’ve gone wrong if (Faulk) gets by me and scores. It wasn’t my intent to injure at all.”
The NHL did not see it that way as Kadri was ejected and handed the lengthy suspension as a result of the play. While he appealed the decision from the league, the former Toronto Maple Leaf did not get the desired outcome.
“Even if I accept as true Mr. Kadri’s contention that he did not intend to make head contact with Mr. Faulk (or to injure him), his actions were nonetheless reckless,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman wrote in his summation of Kadri’s appeal. “The force used was excessive and manifested a disregard for the safety of the opposing player.”
With the slate now clean, Kadri is looking to keep the focus on his play and make a good case for a pay raise as he is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
Kadri saw a decline in production with 11 goals and 32 points appearing in 56 games last season. He told Peter Baugh of The Athletic that he spent the off-season working with NHL players in Toronto to improve his release and adding some body strength.
His Avalanche teammates, meanwhile, say they have lost trust in Kadri despite his reputation for losing his cool during big games.
“There’s no trust issues,” Mikko Rantanen said to reporters. “I don’t really need to tell him what to do because he’s a veteran guy. He’s going to get over it, for sure.”