MONTREAL — Being jeered again by the Bell Centre crowd Saturday night would not be such a bad thing for Nazem Kadri.
According to the Toronto rookie, such a reaction would mean he has done something productive for the visiting Maple Leafs when they take on the hometown Montreal Canadiens in the 704th regular season meeting between the two storied rivals.
As he stepped on to the ice for the Leafs gameday skate Saturday morning, a wide-eyed Kadri took time to look around the arena in an attempt to absorb the experience.
He had good reason to be a bit awestruck.
Kadri, after all, grew up a huge Habs fan. In fact, the Bell Centre was where he was drafted into the NHL in June 2009.
In an interesting twist to the plot, he would end up getting loudly booed by the Canadiens fans in the building when it was announced that he had been selected seventh overall by the hated Leafs.
He hopes to make up for that Saturday night.
“I’d like to repay them for booing me (at the draft),” Kadri said. “In fact, it would be great if I got my first goal here, wouldn’t it?
“It was special to step out onto that ice here and check out the place. You see it on TV but it’s just not the same.”
Kadri has three assists in the three games he has played since being called up from the Marlies.
One of the few members of the Maple Leafs organization who was on staff during Pat Burns’ reign behind the Maple Leafs bench was equipment manager Brian Papineau. “Pat treated everyone the same, from players to staff,” Papineau recalled. “He respected the job we had to do.” Papineau’s description of Burns, who passed away from cancer Friday at age 58? “Fiery.” ... While Dion Phaneuf is not slated to be back in the lineup in the next month after having the area behind his knee sliced open by a skate, the fact that he was peddling hard on the stationary bike outside the Leafs room at the Bell Centre on Saturday morning was evidence that he is improving ... Jonas Gustavsson starts in goal for the Leafs while Carey Price gets the call for the Habs.