Kadri honoured by Leaf fling

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:24 AM ET

Jacques Beaulieu woke up London Knights forward Nazem Kadri Monday with the news the Toronto Maple Leafs wanted him for their game against the San Jose Sharks.

Kadri's reaction wasn't surprising.

"Are you f----- with me?" Kadri asked.

The assistant coach wasn't and neither were the Leafs.

Such was the whirlwind appearance Kadri made on what was supposed to be his day off.

Kadri made his regular season debut for the Leafs in a 3-2 loss to the Sharks. He was an emergency callup when two players fell ill.

Kadri was back in London on Tuesday afternoon. He was given the day off from practice but will be in the lineup when the Knights play the Owen Sound Attack Wednesday.

From the Air Canada Centre and national television to a two-and-a-half hour bus ride to Owen Sound.

"It was such an honour for me playing in that game but you have to stay grounded obviously.

We have things to look forward to with the club team," he said.

"This is where I'm going to be."

Kadri was pleased with how he played. Offensively he doesn't look out of place. He made a nice pass shortly into the game that resulted in a semi-break.

But Kadri learned that there are a lot of things going on in an NHL game, especially in the regular season.

"This is a lot different. This is the real thing and I think preseason is just players' getting their feet wet."

Maple Leaf coach Ron Wilson sat down with Kadri after the game.

"He sat me down and said they were excited to have me and they think I'm going to be a dominant player in the NHL and that means a lot coming from them," Kadri said. "They just told me the things I have to work on. I noticed a big difference in the NHL with the attention to details like faceoffs and things like that. Obviously I have a few things to work on this summer."

Wilson agreed.

"It was a great opportunity for (Kadri) to see what the NHL is all about," Wilson said. "He had a lot of turnovers and things he can probably get away with in junior hockey that he can't get away with in our league, let alone against a top team in the league."

Kadri won two of 13 faceoffs. But he made a lot of slick moves and got some power-play time. He started the game against Shark's Joe Thornton and three other Shark Olympians.

"That was a little nerve-wracking," Kadri said. "But after the first few shifts, I started to feel a lot better. I just played my game."

Beaulieu watched the game and doesn't believe it will be difficult for Kadri to regain his focus for the junior game.

"It's a wake up call," Beaulieu said. "He showed them some good things and he showed some things he has to work on. I watched the game and it's a great experience for a young player, I was proud of him.

"You can't forget where you come from. He's a junior player right now and we have to remind him he's going to be in the NHL one day but right now he's a junior."


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