How Colorado Avalanche Forward Nazem Kadri Salvaged His Legacy

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“One day.”

These two words were all Nazem Kadri needed to state his goal. In 2016, while he was still a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Kadri made his desire to lift the Stanley Cup known. It’s the most sought-after reward in hockey. Thousands reach for it, but only a few actually do. Nazem Kadri, as discussed in a previous article, had a less than stellar reputation leading into the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Everyone was ensured that another suspension was inevitable. However, the Nazem Kadri legacy changed as he made a huge statement instead. He was a key factor for the Colorado Avalanche during their Stanley Cup victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. And he had some things to say to his doubters.

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How Nazem Kadri Salvaged His Legacy

Kadri Proved how much He can Contribute

Nazem Kadri had a reputation as a postseason liability. His suspensions in 2018, 2019, and 2021 left his teams in a tough position. He needed to prove in 2022 that he could help his team instead of hurting them. With the Avalanche, he more than proved his worth. In 16 games, Kadri scored seven goals and had eight assists for 15 points. His top moments were his hat trick game against St. Louis in the second round and his overtime winner against Tampa in Game 4. He was a force in Colorado’s attack, providing an elite scoring touch.

When he was injured during the Western Conference Final, the Avs sorely missed Nazem Kadri. Even though they still scored goals, they weren’t generating as many chances. At times, they also looked sloppy and lacked discipline. Kadri brought some discipline and speed to how the Avs operated. Beyond scoring, his veteran instincts and puck movement helped the offence flow much better. Kadri didn’t just ride Colorado’s coattails to a Cup, he more than pulled his weight.

Kadri Overcame Plenty of Obstacles

That’s not to say this postseason didn’t have its own hurdles. For Nazem Kadri especially, it had its own fair share of obstacles. The big one was against the St. Louis Blues in the second round. During Game 3, he and Blues defenceman Calle Rosen collided into starting goalie, Jordan Binnington. This ended up taking Binnington out for the remainder of the series. Many Blues fans were irate, particularly that Kadri wasn’t punished. The play wasn’t a dirty hit, just a play with an unfortunate result. St. Louis and their fans didn’t feel that way.

The next day was headlined by racist comments and death threats sent to Nazem Kadri and his family. The Avalanche appointed extra security to their hotel, worried for Kadri’s safety. His response was the best one possible. He scored three goals in Colorado’s dominating Game 4 victory and helped the Avs advance to the Western Conference Final. In the face of so much hate and vitriol, Kadri rose above it and did his job.

After suffering a broken thumb in the Conference Final, there was worry if Kadri would return. He made a triumphant return in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. He scored the overtime winner, giving Colorado a 3-1 series lead. Kadri played his role well, helping the Avs clinch their third Stanley Cup in franchise history.

Nazem Kadri Finally Changed the Narrative

Kadri finally reached the goal that he set out for himself in 2016. He got to hoist Lord Stanley above his head, with a huge smile on his face. He will get a ring and his name engraved on the Stanley Cup. The narrative surrounding his playoff performance is finally changed. Whether or not he’ll get back here, is a question for another time. He’s earned this moment and proved that he can help a team win a championship.