Head coach Jared Bednar said it best: “It’ll be good to see him, but I don’t know if it’s great playing against him.” Bednar was talking about former Avalanche star Nazem Kadri, who helped the Calgary Flames notch a 5-3 win over the Avalanche on October 13.
The moment was invariably bittersweet for Avalanche fans. Last year, Kadri led the team to a Stanley Cup win during Game 4 in Tampa Bay. Prior to his dominant postseason, Kadri had notched 87 points in 71 games. During his three seasons with the Avalanche, it’s fair to say that Kadri built a following.
His rise coincided with the legalization of sports betting in the US, which kicked off in 2019 in Colorado. Since then, sites like Oddschecker continue to post free bet offers from top oddsmakers. And players like Kadri tend to take the limelight for those looking into analytical reports on a team and prop bets on players.
In other words, Kadri gave fans plenty to chew on. When he entered free agency at the end of the 2021-22 season, many knew that a prohibitive salary cap would prevent the Avalanche from resigning the star. Since then, he’s signed a seven-year contract in Calgary… and then helped the team defeat his former squad. And still, Kadri has fans in Colorado.
Leaving on a High Note
The fact that Colorado regards Kadri in such high esteem might shock some NHL fans. First and foremost, Kadri left for financial reasons. While he certainly deserved a raise, signing contracts purely for reasons to do with money (and owning up to that, like Kadri did) can leave some with a sour taste in their mouths.
Throw in more than a few questionable hits on the ice and Kadri’s fanbase might seem even more shaky. But that’s the delight of Naz—there’s a lot going on behind the curtain. For example, though some might say he headed to Calgary with a payday in mind, it’s worth pointing out that t-shirt sales bearing the ‘Too Many Men’ quote helped raise $66,000 for charity.
And, most of all, it’s all about timing. Kadri left Colorado on a (really) high note. He brought the Stanley Cup back to Denver. He defiled the St. Louis Blues. He provoked the league in almost every way possible, but in a way that kept fans on the edge of their seats—and he only seemed to get better when rivals and media came down on him.