TORONTO – San Jose Sharks say they have forgave Nazare Kadri, but they certainly have not forgotten the time he mixed with his legendary captain.
It happened in this building on January 4, when Kadri and Joe Thornton exchanged some serious fire before opening and immediately ended the glove release. It was a short dusk – it's hard to even classify it as a fight – and when Kadri ended up with a bunch of hair from Thornton's old gnome beard in his hand while falling on the ice.
Kadri realized that it was the beginning and the end of the incident. At least until the pole fell into the Shark Tank on November 15th, and Barclay Goodrow tried to kill him in the fight. He took the penalty, instead, leading to a 1-0 in Toronto Maple Leafs on the way to a 5-3 win.
Players from San Jose seemed to be preoccupied with their cadres on Kadri throughout the game and did not hide because of the fact that this was the answer to what they considered lack of respect for Thornton.
"I love Naza. I made it, together we got a championship of OHL [in Kitchener], I love him. I like to play, "said Aarks coach Peter DeBoer before his team met Toronto on Wednesday." I mean with Joe Thornton, all I would say is to hope when Naz 38 played on reconstructed knees and had the career that Joe had, that the next generation of players gives Naza the kind of respect she deserves and earns.
"It's a lesson."
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The lesson may have been lost among students.
The staff seems to be sincere confused about San Jose's constant agitation. After playing in Novi Sad in San Jose, he said: "I think they might have been too worried about the wrong things there."
And after the training on Tuesday, he explained that the original result should be resolved when last season accepted Thornton's call for a fight.
"He started, he asked me to fight," Kadri said. "I'm not trying to fight against boys who are six centimeters and 50 pounds heavier than me, it's not something I want to do. It was his decision and I felt like I should answer the bell at the time."
While none of the sharks had overruns what he particularly upset about last year's incident, Kadri seemed to have grabbed Thornton with a kick in front of the draw. He also held a protective helmet for the fight after Captain Sharks suggested he remove them.
"I'm never a guy who will come back or back," Kadri said. "They still want to play with me."
The injuries are not nearly as common in the NHL as it used to be, with a physical game and a battle at a rapid drop. Heck, in the last five games in Toronto there were only 11 small penalties, and Leafs took only one combat major throughout the season.
That may not mean much.
But with Austin Matthews, who returned to the Toronto squad for Wednesday's match, it will drop Kadri to the center of the third line and will probably bring him in a situation against Thornton. It would not be surprising to see them turn to each other.
For his part, Thornton said he did not have a bad feeling that he had to fight against Kadri last season before adding: "We'll see what will happen tonight. It's a hockey game, you never know what can happen."
When sharks started hunting Kadri about two weeks ago, Leafs coach Mike Babcock ordered his team to stay out of "all shit". In addition, he realized that he really was just one guy in San Jose colors that Cadri really had to answer.
"There is not any stronger in their team than Big Joe," said Babcock. "If Big Joe wants to take care of something that happened in the past, he probably can do it. It was good for Naza.
"There's this type of thing, it's kind of greasy, so why not?"