Marlies coach to give Kadri tough love

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:42 PM ET

TORONTO - No one wants to see Nazem Kadri succeed more than Dallas Eakins.

But that doesn’t mean the Marlies coach is going to treat the Maple Leafs 2009 first-round draft pick, who was demoted Wednesday, as shinny royalty.

Far from it.

“Yes, city of Toronto, I know he is a highly regarded prospect that was taken seventh overall,” Eakins said Wednesday prior to the Marlies’ game against the Chicago Wolves. “But he is getting no special treatment. He is getting handed nothing.

“If (Dion) Phaneuf got sent down, it would be the same.”

Call it tough love if you want. But Eakins is consistent in his stance of having his players earn their ice time through hard work and effort, a platform that has earned him respect throughout the Leafs organization and the hockey world.

The bottom line: If Kadri wants gobs of ice time, he’ll have to work for it.

“I’m not going to just hand over the ice time to him that is now going to the likes of Marcel Mueller, Mike Zigomanis, guys who have put in the effort on and off the ice,” Eakins said.

“Like I said, (Kadri) is a top prospect. I’m going to be hard on him when I need to be. And I’ll be there to supply encouragement when the situation calls for it, too.

“When it comes to discipline and work ethic, everyone gets the same treatment. But when it comes to motivation and individual goals, that’s when I treat each player on an individual basis.”

Kadri and Eakins had a face-to-face meeting Wednesday night to discuss what went right — and wrong — when Kadri was with the Leafs.

“Because of our schedule, I haven’t had as much time to watch the Leafs live or on TV as much as I would like,” Eakins said.

In his previous stint as a Marlie under Eakins, Kadri registered 14 points in 14 games. He has to serve a two-game AHL suspension left over from that time before playing Friday in Grand Rapids.

COACH’S KUDOS

Leaf coach Ron Wilson continues to heap praise on the Clarke MacArthur-Mikhail Grabovski-Nikolai Kulemin line.

And rightly so.

“I think it really helps him playing with Grabo,” Wilson said of MacArthur. “They have good communication and Kulie as well.

“Kulie and Grabo are really fast and if you’re a little bit off you fall way behind, so you’re kind of forced to really go. And the system, the style that we play and especially that line, I think suits Clarkie to a ‘T’. He’s been very consistent all year.”

Wilson said there is one glaring warning sign that signals MacArthur is having problems.

“The only thing I see when he’s not on his game is he stops moving his feet,” said Wilson. “He told that before the season started: ‘Usually when I get in trouble I stop moving my feet so can you remind me of that?’ ”

Wilson has done exactly that.

“Every two or three games you have to say: ‘Hey Clarkie, you’re not moving your feet’ and he kinda resets and gets going again,” Wilson said.

LOOSE LEAFS

Centre Tim Brent, who missed the Leafs’ 4-3 loss to Carolina on Tuesday due to illness, is expected to be back in the lineup against Columbus Thursday, “He’s lost a bit of weight but he should be able to go,” Wilson said ... Expect Jonas Gustvasson to get his fourth consecutive start when the Leafs play host to the Blue Jackets.


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