This story, on Nazem Kadri, was written by Calgary Hockey Now writer Steve MacFarlane
CALGARY, Alberta – Colorado Avalanche fans shouldn’t expect anything less from Nazem Kadri. Which is: He plays to win every night, and that will include tonight’s eagerly anticipated matchup with his former team as a new member of the Calgary Flames.
The former fan favorite is looking forward to tonight’s matchup against the guys he mic-dropped in the group chat this summer after winning the Stanley Cup together.
Kadri even says he knows how to shut down the leader of the Avalanche offense, Nathan MacKinnon.
“It’s a secret! It’s a secret!” Kadri joked in Calgary on Wednesday ahead of the Calgary Flames’ season opener at the Saddledome.
“For the last few years, I’ve been going head to head with him in practice and it’s not easy. He’s a great player. He’s certainly a hard competitor, too, and wants the win more than anything. I’ve got nothing but great things to say about that guy and that team. It’s going to be a chore, but we can do it.”
The Avalanche may have something to say about that. But traveling up the Rockies following an emotional home-opener with a banner raising, and their ring presentation earlier in the week, will make things a little more challenging than usual.
Facing the Flames on the road in their home opener against a guy they know to be an elite competitor isn’t ideal.
At least not for the Avalanche.
“I love it. As a player, I want to I want to play against the best. I want to play with the best and I think that brings the best out of me. So I embrace that,” Kadri said of the meeting he swears he didn’t plan when signing with the Flames this summer.
“It seems like the story keeps getting better and better somehow. Obviously, we didn’t plan that. I looked at the schedule after I signed with Calgary and saw that first matchup, so it was a bit ironic. But at the end of the day, it’s kind of nice to get it over and done with and try to get two points.”
Playing with sniper Andrew Mangiapane and a speedy Dillon Dube, Kadri has shown quick chemistry with his new Flames linemates.
He’s fitting in well with his new team, and playing his former club is a nice test to see what a team that has undergone significant changes losing Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk may be capable of.
“Just excitement,” Kadri said of making his Flames debut. “Obviously, I’ve been skating with these guys for the last few weeks, a month. Gotten to know everyone pretty well and they’ve made me feel right at home. They’ve made me feel comfortable and (head coach Darryl Sutter has) done a great job catching me up on systems and whatnot, and I can’t wait to get started here.
“We’ve got a bunch of easy-going guys and real competitors in this locker-room, so it’s a good sign.”
Kadri will have a reminder of what they’re playing for this season, picking up his Stanley Cup ring before the game.
“I’ve talked to the guys about it. They’ve been sending me videos and pictures of it, and of the ceremony as well,” said Kadri. “I just felt like a little kid. I was giddy, excited. They look fantastic. I think they did a great job with them. I’ve seen a lot of angles, so they look pretty sweet. It’s something we earned and it’s something I can’t wait to get my hands on.”