Nazem Kadri is up to his usual antics again.
The former Toronto Maple Leafs forward has been with the Colorado Avalanche for the past two seasons, and hasn’t found himself in trouble with NHL Player Safety since he blatantly cross-checked Jake DeBrusk in the neck in 2019. He played 16 playoff games with the Avs without a major incident.
Well, as of Thursday, you can reset your “Days without a blatant Nazem Kadri cheap shot” calendar back to zero. The Bruins’ old nemesis is back in hot water with Player Safety, and for good reason. He will have an in-person hearing (kind of, it’s via Zoom) after he drove his shoulder through the head of an unsuspecting Justin Faulk during the Avs’ playoff game against the Blues on Wednesday.
Nazem Kadri receives a match penalty for an illegal check to the head of Justin Faulk. pic.twitter.com/RVZkVsqNMz— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) May 20, 2021
kadri gets five and a game for this high hit on justin faulk, who appeared to be knocked out from it. pic.twitter.com/yHbsHUgiLo— zach laing (@zjlaing) May 20, 2021
I mean, it’s as blatant as it gets. Head contact couldn’t have been more avoidable. Kadri very easily could have driven his shoulder into Faulk’s shoulder or chest. But just like he decided in the moment to ram his stick shaft into DeBrusk’s neck area, he decided it would be fine to lift his shoulder nice and high, catch Faulk right through the face. The fact that he didn’t leave his feet should be moot. And of course, as is tradition, Kadri acted like he did nothing wrong in the ensuing scrum. While Faulk lay there on the ice.
Kadri received a major penalty and game misconduct for the play. So we’ll see if that affects the league’s decision on how many games to suspend him for the hit. But he will most certainly be suspended. As of Thursday morning, Kadri has been suspended a total of 18 games in his career. Expect that number to go up.
In-person hearings allow for the league to suspend players for more than five games, as opposed to those conducted over the phone. So obviously, Player Safety is at least considering a lengthy ban for Kadri.
The precedent for Kadri is to suspend him the rest of the series, which is the punishment he got for cross-checking DeBrusk two years ago. That turned out to be five games, as the Bruins and Leafs went seven. The Avs and Blues have, at most, five games left in their series. So it’ll be interesting to see if Kadri’s suspension goes beyond that.
Then again, Player Safety has resembled more of a kangaroo court in recent weeks, with their soft treatment of repeat offender Tom Wilson. Will player safety head George Parros show similar leniency with Kadri? It would be hard to believe that he’d get anything less than what he got in 2019. But any hockey fans who believe in on-ice justice are holding their breath awaiting the league’s decision.
Obviously, Hockey is a Violent Game™. And not every violent hit is intentionally dirty – see Corey Perry’s scary collision with John Tavares from Thursday night. But Kadri is a guy who high-steps right over the line at times. So for this hit on Faulk, he clearly needs another spanking.
Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @mattydsays. You can also email him at email@example.com.