December 3, 2010
Kadri demoted to fourth lineCentres behemoths Orr and Rosehill
By LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency
TORONTO - The Maple Leafs were insistent Nazem Kadri would be back as a top-six forward with the Marlies before they’d reduce him to fourth-line status in the NHL.
But with so many good intentions scuttled in the first quarter of the season, there was little fuss about the former first-round pick’s new role for Saturday’s game against the Bruins.
Kadri, who had no goals in nine games as mostly a left winger, will be between behemoths Jay Rosehill and Colton Orr. Coach Ron Wilson tried to lessen the sting by saying Friday he’ll use Kadri on the power play, too.
“He’s struggled a little, but maybe he’s best suited to playing a bit on the power play and spot him on the fourth line when we can,” Wilson said.
Kadri did not equate his new assignment to a demotion, punishment or an attempt by Wilson to take fan and media pressure off of him.
“I’m still going to get the opportunity to play, just with different players,” Kadri reasoned. “I’ll keep things simple and maybe bring my edge a little more.
“If I have the puck, I’m still going to try and be creative. Nothing really changes. I don’t think I’m a guy who can’t play with that edge. I’ve showed it many, many times. I think playing with those two big bodies will make some room for me down low.”
Wilson is also going to try Phil Kessel at centre with the returning Colby Armstrong and Kris Versteeg, believing the extra space will utilize Kessel’s speed. Kessel has very little sandpaper in his game, but has been good on faceoffs. He didn’t come out to face the media for a second day.
The Leafs haven’t broken up the first line of Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin and Clarke MacArthur, who have 19 of Toronto’s 51 goals. Tyler Bozak will likely centre Tim Brent and Fredrik Sjostrom, though he and Brent could flip.
“I’m glad Phil volunteered,” Wilson said. “When Phil’s had to jump in (when usual centre Bozak was kicked out on draws), he’s good, But it’s different when your responsibility is to win the big faceoff in your own end. Kris is pretty good on faceoffs, too, so between the two of them, we should be okay.”