Kadri deserves to be told he's staying

STEVE SIMMONS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:48 PM ET

TORONTO - Never mind what Nazem Kadri can’t do — its time to focus on what he can do and is doing for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Whether it’s playing left wing, as he is now, or at his more natural position, centre, it is clear the offensively challenged Leafs desperately need the creativity and vision Kadri brings to their lineup. In other words, it’s time for somebody to tell him he’s here to stay.

Kadri’s skills were evident Monday night in the Leafs defeat of the Dallas Stars at the Air Canada Centre. While Kadri set up a rare Tyler Bozak goal in the second period — and that in itself had to count for something — his puck movement working with Phil Kessel and the struggling Bozak is at level beyond the majority of Leaf forwards.

Kadri now has four points in five games with the Leafs, and when you consider that Bozak has all of six points in 20 games, well, it’s clear the Leafs, shut out four times already this season, can’t eliminate what Kadri brings to the lineup.

A whole lot of NHL teams put up with their rookies’ defensive deficiencies if they can the requite amount of offence in exchange. This is a tradeoff the Leafs can’t afford to make anymore.

Beverly remembers

Nick Beverley kept the piece of paper. He even looked at it the other day. I still have the little note he left on his desk. It read ‘Good luck, Nick.’ For some reason, I’ve always kept it.

Beverley is the answer to a Maple Leafs trivia question that seems particularly important right now. He succeeded the late Pat Burns as coach of the Leafs in 1996. Burns, along with the late Gaye Stewart, were honoured in a pre-game ceremony before the game that Beverley was pleased to be in attendance to witness it.

“I really appreciated that he did that gesture. It said a lot about Pat. A lot of coaches get fired and they just leave....When I heard the word of his passing, I got all choked up. He was a great guy to know, a great guy to work with.”

Beverley wasn’t the only Burns connection at the ACC Monday night. Marc Crawford, the Dallas head coach, was the Leafs’ American Hockey League coach in Burns’ first season in Toronto. Crawford joined the Leafs staff for the post-seasons on their run to back-to-back Conference Finals ...

Kuley’s hot

For two years, Ron Wilson has been carping about Nikolai Kulemin not shooting enough. Against Dallas, you understood why. Kulemin tipped a Mikhail Grabovski deflection past Kari Lehtonen for the Leafs’ first goal and then followed up on his own shot for the second Toronto score. Kulemin is now scoring close to a 30-goal pace, which is overachieving for the Leaf winger ... Clearly Wilson wasn’t happy with Kessel’s game Monday night. Kessel played significantly less than his linemates, Bozak and Kadri in the second period after not backchecking on Brad Richards’ goal. “Message sent, message received,”said Wilson, who liked Kessel’s third-period effort ... The way Jonas Gustavsson is playing in goal, the notion of splitting games 50-30 in favour of the injured J-S Giguere has to be reconsidred by Wilson once Giguere is ready to play. Gustavsson is looking very much like a No. 1 goalie ... Not known for his offence, Luke Schenn has five assists this season, which is one more than Kessel and two more than Bozak. You can make the argument right now that Schenn is the Leafs’ best player ... Under the department of what took so long: Brian Burke is no longer talking to the all-sports radio stadium, Fan590.

Dots and Dashes

Poor Kris Versteeg. Not all third lines are created equal. He’s gone from playing on a third line of the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, centred by Dave Bolland, to the third line with the Leafs centred by Tim Brent ... For those who wonder why there is fighting in hockey, we give you another fight that had nothing to do with the game: Colton Orr beating up on the former Georgetown Raider, Krystopher Barch ... Once upon a time the neutral zone trap strangled offence out of the game. Now it’s the blocked shot that that is killing offence in the NHL ... Dallas defenceman Mark Fistric is the son of the legendary junior goon, Boris Fistric, who once had 460 penalty minutes for Ernie (Punch) McLean’s New Westminster Bruins. In his two pro seasons, Fistric had 788 penalty minutes ... Clearly, the untimely giveaways are getting to Mike Komisarek. He was jumpy again with the puck against Dallas.


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